Happy New Year!

Here’s to the New Year...

May it bring more joy and success
And less grief and regret.

To our dreams...
May we never stop believing in them
And taking the actions that will make them a reality.

To our friends, loved ones, and internet pals ...
May we take the time to let them know
How much it means to us
To have them in our lives.

Let us encourage more and criticize less,
Give more and need less.
And whenever we can,
Let us create harmony and peace.

To new beginnings...
Let us start fresh, right now,
To make this the very best year ever.

A very Happy New Year to all of us!

By Joanna Fuchs

Awards ~ Thank you!!

A gracious thank you for passing along these awards to me
blogger friends!

~ Some of the most friendly people I know on the internet ~

Thank you Jain!

Thank you Cielo, from "The House in the Roses"!

Thank you Emily!
Thank you Joan!

Thank you Rene!
Thank you Justina!

Thank you Jain, Darling Baker!
Thank you Linda!
Thank you, Ann!

Thank you Honey B!

Thank you Erica!

Thank you Audrey!

Thank you Rhonda!
Thank you Susan!

Thank you Christine!

Thank you Barb!!

Thank you Rebekah!

Thank you very much Cielo!!

Thank you Cielo! xo

Thank you again Cielo ~ ((hugs))!

Thank you sweet Marsha, from Marsha's Mpressions. :)

I'm so happy to know you all , and
I'm honored!


Chicken Taquitos with Cilantro Cream

I had a few white corn tortillas, shredded chicken, and fresh cilantro left over after I made the Mexican Chicken Soup (below), so I turned them into a little snack.

No need to deep fry these taquitos, just a bit of oil coating the skillet will do, (less than an eighth of an inch.)

Of course you can serve them with any dip or sauce you like; salsa, guacamole, a squeeze of lemon or lime, sour cream, etc. But I also like this Cilantro Cream, it's good on plainly prepared chicken or fish, too. ~

Cilantro Cream

1/2 bunch Cilantro (including stems), rinsed and dried
1/4 cup Lime (or Lemon)* juice
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup Cream fraiche (or plain Greek-style yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Fresh cracked pepper

Optional: A small amount of minced fresh jalapeno. Not necessary, but I had some on hand.


Puree the cilantro and lime (or lemon) juice in a blender until smooth (blender is recommended as a food processor doesn't puree as thoroughly for these ingredients)
Place the puree in a bowl. Fold in the sour cream and cream fraiche; blend well. Season with the salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour to allow the flavors to marry.

* I prefer lime, but lemon works, too.
Note: If the lemon is very tart, I reduce the amount then dilute just slightly with water to make 1/4 cup.


Thin Taquitos
(your choice of filling)

In order to make the very thin taquitos it's best to use fresh tortilla (otherwise they will split when you roll them, even when warm.) Don't fret if your tortillas aren't the freshest though, as you can always simply warm them and fold them in half rather than rolling, then crisp them in the oil. The presentation will just be a slightly different.

To make the rolled taquitos I heat a small amount of vegetable oil in the skillet, dip the tortilla for a moment on each side, then place the tortilla on a paper towel lined plate or work surface. It doesn't take much filling to make each one; approximately a tablespoon and a half. Arrange the filling in a compact line near one edge of the warmed tortilla and roll fairly tightly. Secure by weaving one toothpick in and out once along the edge. I assemble all, then crisp them by frying, seam side down first, in very little oil, turning so they brown evenly. Remove to a paper towel to drain any excess oil, and remove toothpicks.

You can use almost any filling you like; cooked beef, pork, turkey, chicken, cheese, beans, or other vegetables. It's a delicious way to use up a bit of leftovers.

A question...

Does it make you feel satisfied to use up the last bit, creatively, and not waste food?

I try my best, but I'll probably never hone my skills of frugality as cleverly as my grandparents and parents (who lived through the depression of the last century) were able to do. I find it rewarding to try though.


My version of the Barefoot Contessa's Mexican Chicken Soup

I like Ina Garten's version of Mexican Chicken Soup very much, but I make a few changes which I've noted below.

Aside from roasting the chicken (you can use store-bought rotisserie), the soup goes together fairly rapidly and only needs to simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the chicken breasts are baking, prepare the vegetables:

Grab your favorite big pot... I have a few favorites but if I'm serving from the pot I like to pick a pretty one. :)

Heat the oil, and saute the vegetables ~

... until the onions just begin to brown.

While the veggies are cooking slice the fresh, white corn tortillas in half, then into 1/2-inch strips:

These will serve to slightly thicken and flavor the broth.

Stir in the garlic and herb/spices (except the cilantro), allow them to release their oils.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, minced jalapleno peppers, salt and pepper to the pot, and bring to a boil.

Stir in the fresh tortilla strips~

They will begin to soften and dissolve;

Reduce the heat and partially cover the pot.

Allow to simmer for 25 minutes or so, then add the chicken just before serving.

Garnish with your choice of toppings/ I use the cilantro leaves generously because I love it, but some don't so I pass it along with the other condiments at the table. Then get ready to enjoy a comforting soup!

I follow Ina's recipe fairly closely as far as ingredients and amounts, but I do change a few things which I've noted below.

Mexican Chicken Soup
My adaptation of Ina Garten's recipe

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups diced onions (2 onions)
1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks, or more depending upon size)
2 cups sliced carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 qts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in purée, crushed (I use two 14.5 ounce cans, of diced tomatoes with their juice)
1 to 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon dry Mexican Oregano, or 2 teaspoons fresh
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas
Instant Masa Harina (as thickener, optional)

For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. When I add the garlic, I also add the cumin, coriander, and oregano, to allow their oils to release.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their purée, jalapenos, , 2 teaspoons salt (I don't add the entire 1 Tablespoon, as the amount will depend upon the saltiness of the chicken stock, you can adjust at the end of cooking time)
1 teaspoon pepper

Note: Ina adds the cilantro now, if using. I don't because I don't like cooked cilantro leaves. I do mince some of the stems and add them now. (optional)

Cut the tortillas in half, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup.

Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. I partially cover.

If you prefer thicker soup, add about a Tablespoon or so of instant Masa Harina (optional)

Just before serving add the shredded chicken and season to taste.

If I'm serving individually, and not out of the pot at the table I add the chicken to the soup bowls, then ladle the hot soup over the top. I pass the cilantro at the table to allow each diner to add their own.

Serve the soup with any of the following, if you like: sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

May use rotisserie chicken rather than roasting your own.


Buffalo Chicken Salad

Craving a salad, and something spicy last night I used some boneless-skinless chicken thighs to make this take-off on Buffalo Chicken wings, but baked, not deep fried.

I sliced the chicken thighs into fat strips, dipped them in buttermilk (water or milk would also do) then rolled them in a typical recipe for oven-fried chicken and baked them.

Oven Fried Chicken Thighs

About 4 or 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips, (leaving the strips the length of the thighs)
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
about 1/4 cup butter or margarine

Preparation:Preheat oven to 425° -F

Mix coating ingredients in a shallow dish or plastic bag, set aside.

Rinse chicken, shake off extra water and dip into buttermilk (or milk, water). pat dry with paper towels. Coat chicken with the flour mixture.

Put butter in a shallow baking pan; place in oven to melt. When butter is melted, arrange chicken in the baking pan in a single layer. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes; turn and bake 10 minutes longer, or until chicken is tender and done.

While still hot, toss or sprinkle (as generously as you like) with Frank's hot sauce and arrange the pieces on cool, crispy romaine leaves, with celery slices. Frank's brand is perfect for this dish as it's vinegary and not unbearably hot as some are.

I then Sprinkle with big crumbles of my favorite local Blue Cheese.

And drizzled with an excellent commercial Blue Cheese chunky vinaigrette.

I'm not sure how widely this Oregon brand is distributed, the company makes several kinds and it's very good. No preservatives, it's found in the refrigerated section of the market.

And for my fellow dish-disease pals, here's a photo of the dish that the cheese is on:

It is one of a set of 6, each with a different but similar pattern by Williams Sonoma, made in Japan. I acquired these a couple of years ago, so I'm not sure if they are still available but perhaps on the secondary market.


Several of my terrific followers have commented, or emailed asking how/where in the world I store my collection of dishes/plates/kitchen gear. :) I promise to post a few pictures in the coming days, and thanks for your comments and emails! I really appreciate them.


Timbales de Broccoli

No last minute scurrying with this recipe, as you can assemble it several hours ahead and bake in the bain marie when you are ready to serve, which makes it a good choice for your dinner party.
It is not not fussy like a souffle, so it can wait patiently for you in its hot water bath if dinner is slightly delayed.

But no need to wait for your next dinner party it's a delicious way to serve broccoli anytime.

A mildly flavored and creamy, tender custard, even those that claim not to like broccoli may change their minds over this one as it doesn't have the texture or strong aroma or taste of broccoli prepared the usual ways.

Timbales de Broccoli
4 -six ounce servings

These timbales may be made a few hours ahead, refrigerated then bake when you're ready to serve. (If right from the fridge allow extra minutes to compensate for the chill factor.)

3/4 pound broccoli florets.
My notes: Stems can be utilized, too, just chop them in small pieces and steam/cook longer than the florets. Add the florets near the end of cooking time when the stem pieces are beginning to become tender.
3 Tablespoons creme fraiche or whipping cream (whipping cream/ heavy cream works fine in this recipe)
1 egg, plus 1 yolk
1 Tablespoon chopped spring onion/scallion (optional
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper

Your favorite white wine butter sauce (beurre blanc)
, to serve (optional)
fresh chives, or thinly sliced scallios to garnish.

Preheat oven to 375-degrees (F)

Lightly butter four 6-ounce ramekins. Line the bases with greaseproof paper and butter the paper.

Steam the broccoli in the top of a covered steamer over boiling water for 8 - 10 minutes until very tender. Or boil in salted water until easily pierced with a knife tip.

Put the broccoli in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process with the cream, egg, and yolk until smooth.

Add the spring onion, if using, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pulse to mix.

Spoon the puree into the prepared ramekins and place the ramekins in a baking dish.

Add boiling water to come halfway up the sides, then bake for 25 minutes, until just set.

Invert onto warmed plates and peel off the paper. May serve with a Beurre Blanc sauce; pour a little sauce around each timbale and garnish with chives.

To my mind the sauce might be too much for this recipe, I think it's just perfect the way it is.

I made the timbales in these porcelain oval ramekins. A large number fit into a big roasting pan, making them the perfect shape for baking many at once.
I bought quite number of them a few years ago from Crate & Barrel for a party I gave. Their capacity is about 6 to 8 ounces, a very useful size and I've used them many times for a number of recipes. They were not expensive, and may be still available.

Christmas Dinner Table

Due to weather issues, Christmas Day was a quiet affair here this year. We actually didn't celebrate Christmas dinner until last night.

The food turned out very well, and I have a couple of new recipes to share ~ I'll post the menu, photos and recipes a little later.

In the meantime I thought I would share a glimpse of the Christmas table.

As you can see, I kept it very simple this year. Through the years I've found that everyone seems to enjoy themselves more (including the hostess), if I keep it casual. :)

If I'm hosting Christmas, instead of place markers I always give some kind of Christmas ornaments. This year it was these inexpensive wooden nutcrackers, each one a little different.

The centerpiece was about as simple and no-fuss as it could be. Just a gold-leaf rectangular glass platter filled with fresh cranberries, and clear votives.

It really worked out well, and was a very low-stress day!

A Sampling of my food . . .


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