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Thursday, April 28, 2011

What an Eggcellent Idea!

I know, I get carried away with the corny post titles...what can I say? I'm strange funny like that! Although I'm a foodie and cooking freak of the highest order, I'm weird about something. What? Well, it's strange (don't look so surprised, now), but....I cannot stand to eat in the mornings. I have my coffee, to be sure, but actual solid food? No. Makes me nauseous, seriously. However, today was an exception (eggception?). I had just finished two hours of very hard labor....mowing the large lawn here in Pixie-Land..no, I don't exaggerate...it's big....see?


Needless to say....by the time I was done, I was absolutely famished! Then, the thought of a simple omelet, filled with some leftovers from last nights' supper, appealed to me tremendously.  I had made one of my weeknight standbys...it's called Cowboy Spaghetti. Go HERE for the recipe. It's easy, and I enjoy it's smoky flavor as a nice change from regular Italian-style spaghetti sauce.  Can you believe that some are intimidated by the humble omelet? It's easy...let me show you. First, I got the usual suspects together..


An egg, some Vermont sharp white cheddar, the leftover Cowboy Spaghetti sauce, some scallions, and a jar of pickled jalapenos...because, as you already know...I'm spicy like that. :)  I melted some cholesterol-free margarine in my non-stick skillet, like so..



Then, scrambled one egg in a measuring cup, with a little half and half..yes, just one egg...come on now, remember our Pixie-portions! It will be enough....I promise!



Then pour into the skillet, and swirl the pan around, so that the egg coats the bottom completely...like this..



Now, we're on to the fun part...building the yummy insides of our omelet. First, I spooned in some of the leftover spaghetti sauce (this is a lot like a chili-cheddar omelet)...


Then, some thinly sliced green onion goes in...keep that heat nice and low, now...that egg is steadily cooking while you are building the insides of it...


Then, I added my little zingy pickled jalapenos...


Now, for the crowning touch...I grated over enough lovely sharp white cheddar to suitibly cover the surface of the whole shebang...


Now comes the part that people are a little bothered by...the flip. If you've taken your time filling that protein-packed-puppy up, the egg will be completely cooked, and the filling quite warm by now. Carefully slide your spatula under one side to make sure, like this...


Fear not, and carefully flip that entire side over to the other edge...and don't worry if it does not look perfect....practice next time! You should have a little half-moon kinda thingy, like this...


Now, the whole thing is cooked through and ready to plate...just bring your skillet to the plate, and slide off! Yes, it's that easy!


I garnished with some additional green onions, and chopped basil and cilantro from the Pixie-Patch..



I wish I had some salsa..that would have been great on the omelet, too.  It looked a little lonely just sitting there, so I segmented a grapefruit, and this was my late-morning-after-mowing breakfast!



How was it? Let me just say that everything on that plate disappeared with astonishing speed. And yes, it was fantastic! I get hungry just looking at it! Hmmmm, wonder what I'll put in the next one?

What "difficult" dish can you do with ease? Did it surprise you that you can do it?

What did Kitchen Angel think? I went to find her, and heard the unmistakable sounds of the song "Born to Be Wild" and a motorcycle engine....what the hey?


Unreal. I know it's Spring and all, but......really? Holy Toledo. Eat well, my friends. Love and kindess to all...

                                                                             Pixie

Sunday, April 24, 2011

As the Earth Turns

No, it's not all Foodie Heaven up here in Pixie-Land. I know, try to hide your shock and surprise..there are boxes to unpack! Clothes to wash! Cleaning to be done! Window treatments to be purchased...the list goes on and on. BUT...the most important thing has yet to be revealed! What is it? Well, this is what greeted me not long after we first moved in. This is late December, and what the "back forty" looked like.

I envisioned a kitchen garden out there....one filled with beautiful, organic vegetables. After all, one can't participate in the art form of cooking at it's purest, with chemical and preservative-filled food, now, can one? But...as you can see...all I could do was to stare out there, and long for Spring. Fast-forward to March, and the snow is gone! BUT...I had no tiller, no power tools, no young person to put to work for me. What could I do?  The answer: start anyway. They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Here is step one....I took a shovel, and outlined where I'd like the garden to be....


You can see the line on the right side of the picture...clearly, I had a long row to hoe......literally. Then, with hope in my heart (and anti-inflammatory meds by the nightstand), I began....one shovel-full at a time.



There were times I thought I would never finish, that's for sure. It was back-breaking, difficult labor....but a labor of love, to be sure. The saying is that to work the earth is good for the soul......my soul surely must have been in good shape by now...I kept going...


It was beginning to look like a garden! The hardest part was still ahead of me. Separating the clumps of grass, one by one...and retaining the soil. Weeks passed...sometimes I was so exhausted, I was tucked in before eight at night. The problem with middle age...is that you have all the passion of your youth, the wisdom attained by age, and a lack of physical strength and stamina that you used to have! I pressed on....trips to the home improvement store soon followed....and one day in April.....there it was.


My vision was real. It finally happened! Through hard work....just me....a shovel, and the luxury of time.  Eat well my friends, pursue your dreams with passion and true work, and stay tuned for the lovely vegetables that the new Pixie-Patch will produce! HAHAHAH.....Pixie-Patch.....it's approximately 15 feet wide, and forty feet long! 

What project or achievement are you most proud of? What did you do to MAKE it happen for yourself and your family?

Love and kindness (and healthy produce) to all,

                                                                             Pixie

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tender-Hearted...

You know the time I'm talking about. It's mid-week....about 3 or 4 days until payday. The cupboard may not be bare....but it's getting close. YOU however, want a nice, luxurious, and tasty meal! HOW DARE YOU!  HAHAHAHAH...OK, getting a little manic there. Here's the thing...it is all within your reach! How do I know? Well, the older I get, the more I realize I DON'T know, but what I DO know...is that you can have beautiful food on a budget.  If you'd like the recipe I used, go here. Take for example one recent pre-paycheck weeknight...IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT! Just kidding, I've always wanted to write that, though. But this, my friends, this was all I had to work with...

That's right...one TEENY-TINY little 1/2 of a pork tenderloin! Yes, I had other foods in my freezer, being a thrifty little Pixie...but...I wanted me some pork-tastic supper that night. The real question here is....a half a pork tenderloin...a couple of taters needed used up...and one half of an English cucumber..hmmmm. Not enough to make an elegant, weeknight meal you say? Watch me. First, take your knife, and cut that bad boy almost in half.


It will look like this...



Then, cover it with plastic wrap, and carefully beat the tarnation out of it until it is flatter.....and larger....like so...


Then saute' ye up some bacon (pork on pork action! Avert your eyes, children!)


Then add the shrooms


In keeping with the recipe...mix that lovely mixture with the parsley, breadcrumb, etc...


Now. don't forget...we're making an entire supper here, remember? Yes, I thought you did. Start a coupla three taters or so to boil....


Then, get back to the job at hand. Take that stuffing, and place it all the way out to the edges of yonder tenderloin....thusly...


Then, roll it into a log of sorts....


Then, tie it up with some kitchen string...or toothpick it, as the recipe calls for. I don't know about you, but I like my hog...HOG TIED!!!! HAHAHAHAHA...OK, I crack myself up.


Now, mix the parsley, oil and lemon rind & such...and let it get all mellow together. You want this to blend for a little while, because then when you spoon it over the pork, you get maximum flavor!



Now, go online and get Sunny Anderson's incredibly good tangy tater salad recipe, and assemble your ingredients. Hey, your piggie is resting, and your taters are boiling....you've got time!  Here's the line up...


From upper left..white wine vinegar, sugar, paprika, flour, bacon, green onions, pickled jalapeno, and garlic. Drain and cool your taters, and cube them. Come on! Leave those skins on! It's called vitamins, people..



Follow the recipe, and saute those lovely green onions & such...look at the beautiful color the paprika gives the mixture...


Then, combine with the still-warm potatoes...


Oh...my...goodness. You know, I don't think I can make any other potato salads after tasting this one! Now...back to the action! Take that lonely 1/2 an English cucumber..



Slice as thin as you can, and place in a shallow dish with red wine vinegar, dill, salt, pepper, and just a pinch of sugar. 


Let them get all pickly while you get back to the tenderloin. You see the timing here? Your zesty cukes are ready and waiting...your warm potato salad is done...now, just on to the main event...Take Mr. porky and put him on your pre-heated grill pan....not too high now...just medium high, to get it all crispy and what not on the outside..



Turn it, and brown evenly all over...like so...


Tent it with a sheet of foil...and cook for another ten minutes or so on medium. Remember, you pounded that pork thin...it will be cooked, I promise!  Well, how did we budget-conscious mid-week mavens do?  Have a look.....



Now...I know I am prone to superlatives, however.....I seriously cannot imagine making a tenderloin a different way! Ditto on the tater salad. Of course, Dear Husband and I always love us some marinated cukes...what a lovely pickle to be in! And that, to sum up, is the point of this post. Just because you are not flush with money at the moment, does not mean you can't eat supremely well! Remember something here...before restaurants, and take out, and disposable life in general....there was cooking good food, from scratch..with delicious results.

What is your "lack o' dough" strategy? What do you do to streeeeetch that dollar? Breakfast for dinner? Mac and cheese? Tell me!

Eat well my friends, and get ready for the rest of our rubber chicken, and how I almost lost Kitchen Angel to Spring Fever!!

Love and kindness to all...

                                                                            Pixie

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Leftover Magician

Yes, I know we must get back to our amazing stretchy chicken, but hang on now, I cannot have chicken every night, you know? We'll get there, I promise. In the meantime....while craving my traditional non-traditional breakfast (as per usual), I came upon the following leftovers/items that needed used up....


Hmmmm...basil on it's last leg....freshly grated Parmesan, garlic, leftover pasta (linguine), and the rest of a bag of delicious pine nuts. POOF! It's time for presto pesto! It's amazing how quick and easy you can be eating gourmet Italian food with just a few items in your fridge, pantry, or garden.  Here's how you do it...throw that basil into the food processor. Add the garlic clove, about a teaspoon of salt, the Parmesan and the pine nuts.  Here it all is, ready to roll....literally.


Sidebar note: walnuts or even peanuts work just fine in this...the strong flavors of basil and garlic really overpower the nuts anyway...they are more important for texture in the final sauce. Blitz that all together until finely mixed into an herby paste...like this


 Then, with the motor running, blend in about 1/4 cup of olive oil, until you have a sauce thin enough to coat your pasta...it should look like this....lovely and green..


 Well, what can I say? It was rich, herb-a-liciously good!  I tend to get a little maxxed out on pesto, so of course, I kept it to a Pixie-portion size...but, lookey here!


 Another close up of this carb-tastic breakfast?



It was, and is a delicious, garlicky start to the day, that I'm sure will fuel me into a productive and healthy day!  What did Kitchen Angel think? Hmmmm...not sure what she's been up to lately, let's go have a look..


There she goes....heading out to the garden with my pansy seedlings! My goodness, that lady needs to learn some patience! Stay tuned for the creation of the garden here in Pixie-land, the rest of the meals from our rubber chicken, and all things good and tasty.

Have you planted yet? Are you stuck without a yard and forced to garden in containers? I've been there too...keep the faith, and keep growing something....always!

Eat well, my friends.....see you next time. Love and kindness to all,

                                                                            Pixie

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Attack of the Rubber Chicken! ~ Part Two

As you know from Part One...I am attempting to make one chicken stretch to the breaking point! Three meals, chicken stock, and a snack...from one chicken.  I have already made the stock and snack (see Part One), and now it's on to the second part of the challenge...the meals. Here's how I turned one chicken breast into dinner for two.  Impossible, you say? Well, buckle your seat belts.....here we go!  This recipe is from an Episode of $40 Dollars a Day, with Rachael Ray. The restaurant that makes it is in Palm Springs, California, and if you'd like to duplicate it, go here. First, I line my cutting board with plastic wrap...raw poultry, dontcha know...and slice that chicken breast in half lengthwise, like so..


You will then have two fairly decent size pieces, like this...



But....they are not quite there yet.  Cover them with the plastic wrap, and take your meat mallet, or a heavy skillet, and starting from the center, bash them until thinner and larger...they will look like this:



Then, dredge them in some seasoned flour...



Then, assemble your ingredients for the piccata...


Clockwise from the bottom we have; capers and butter, lemon juice, clarified butter (just melt butter over low heat, and skim off the milk solids from the top) sun-dried tomatoes (sitting in hot water to reconstitute), and chicken stock from our famously stretchable chicken.  Not shown...two tablespoons of white wine. Brown the chicken cutlets in your skillet in the clarified butter...I like a non-stick one for this recipe.


Set them aside while you build the sauce with the white wine, capers, sun dried tomatoes, lemon juice and chicken stock, and bring it to a decent bubble to reduce..



Here it is after reducing and concentrating the sauce..



Then, whisk in the remaining tablespoons of butter. This gives the sauce a little more body, and a silky, creamy texture...


While the chicken was keeping warm in the oven, and my sauce was reducing I pulled these from the fridge...I had prepared our appetizers earlier in the day..


The reason we love this particular shrimp cocktail so much, is something you cannot readily see. When I mixed the ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to make cocktail sauce, I added a little something that we had in a restaurant in Alaska. It's simply finely chopped celery! A little touch, that makes a nice and crunchy difference. On to the meal...I made my "Bowling Banquet Green Beans" (and yes, I will give you that recipe soon), and some lovely orzo tossed with butter and parsley. Well, how has the first meal from our rubber chicken gone?  Take a peek....


It was delicious. I'm not a big chicken breast fan, as I prefer the darker, more flavorful thigh...but if I must use them, this is the dish! This is what I made for dessert on this first "Rubber Chicken" meal...


Ahhhh..chocolate and strawberries...a match made in heaven!

What meal went perfectly for you...from appetizer to dessert? Is it something you can do ahead of time? I'm interested in your "show off" suppers, so tell me!

Now, I know all you cooks out there in Pixie-Land have been keeping count, and you know that I have two drumsticks, two thighs, and one breast left from the birdy that gave it's all for us....stay tuned, because I have two more suppers to create from that one chicken! Oh, and Kitchen Angel has been up to something...so we'll have to check in with her.

Eat well my friends, Happy Springtime! Love and kindness to all,


                                                                           Pixie