Five-Spice Sticky Chicken Bites ~ Happy New Year!

Happy New Year ~ Welcome in 2011 !

I wish you all the BEST in the new year everyone.

Here is one last post for 2010 ~

A really good little appetizer/snack, with Asian influences.

You probably have gathered that I love Asian-inspired and Pacfic Rim flavors, and here's another one.

I originally made this as a dinner entree with chicken pieces, bone-in and skin on.

I've altered it a little this time by using boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces.  Actually, I would have preferred
using boneless, skinless and trimmed chicken thigh chunks ~but this is what I had on hand.  However, making a run to the market on New Years eve just didn't appeal to me at all.

The sauce is made from fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce (or Tamari), oyster sauce, a bit of brown sugar, dry sherry, Five Spice, Star Anise and a little chicken broth.

You can make it stove-top in a skillet, in the oven, or on a charcoal or stove-top grill. I started this in a saute pan, and finished it in the oven this time.

As the sauce thickens up it enrobes the chicken pieces  ~ salty and sweet with a most delightful, subtle exotic fragrance from the Five Spice and Star Anise.

It is one of our favorites ~ and goes perfectly with a little of the bubbly.

It was a perfect starter for our New Year's Eve dinner of prawns with 3 dipping sauces.

If you would like a printable copy of the recipe I'll have it up on the Once Upon a Plate recipe blog within the next couple of days. 

But right now, it's time to go enjoy the very last of 2010.

Have fun celebrating everyone. Thank you so much for your friendship and support throughout this year and I'll see you in 2011.

xo ~ Mari 


Lemon Mushroom and Mozzarella Toasts with Oregano Oil Drizzle

I believe it would be safe to say that you'd have to like mushrooms in order to savor this dish!

And happily, everyone one in my family adores mushrooms of any kind, and prepared almost any way.

There is something about the pan seared mushrooms and slabs of fresh mozzarella cheese perched upon a grilled slice of good sourdough ...

And sprinkled with coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper and finished with a drizzle of oregano oil and fresh lemon juice that is irresistible.

The good news is that it all goes together in a matter of moments ~ and it makes a wonderful first course, or a light lunch or dinner.  It's another brilliant combination from Donna Hay.

The Oregano Oil?
It could not be more simple to make ~ and it is also wonderful drizzled over potatoes, egg dishes, as well as chicken or fish. 

If you would like a printable copy of the recipe you can find it on the Once Upon a Plate recipe blog by clicking HERE.

Thank you for stopping by today friends, and thank you in advance for any comments or thoughts you would like to share. I cherish each one.

This is my entry for Foodie Friday,
hosted by Designs by Gollum


Cranberry Bliss Bars ~ Similar to Starbucks

First, a disclaimer ~  actually I don't frequent Starbucks and I haven't had a bite of their Cranberry Bliss Bars, but this is a clone that has been floating around on the Internet for several years.

It's a soft cookie-like bar (similar to a brownie in texture), with chopped dried cranberries, white chocolate chunks ~or morsels, a little ginger, and sweetened with brown sugar.

After reading several reviews of the recipe, I took some suggestions from others and made a few tweaks of my own.

  I'm not a fan of overly sweet desserts so for the frosting I doubled the amount of cream cheese and  reduced the amount of powdered sugar in the frosting by half, and used a combination of orange extract, almond extract and vanilla to flavor it. 

Instead of ground ginger in the batter for the bars I finely diced some candied crystallized ginger to bump the flavor up a bit, and used orange extract and vanilla extract instead of lemon.

One reviewer mentioned that Starbuck's drizzle on top is melted white chocolate rather than the much sweeter powdered sugar drizzle so I followed that tip as well using melted white chocolate instead. 

The results?  It received solid thumbs up at my house and I would make this again.
(Although definitely reserved as a once-in-a-while, special treat!)

If you would like a printable copy of the original recipe, and my changes you'll find it on the Once Upon a Plate Recipe Blog by clicking HERE.

Thank you for stopping by today, and any comments or thoughts you would like to share.  xo~m.


A Simple Country Christmas Tablescape

Welcome Friends, please come in and make yourselves at home.

Lots of pictures, and few words this time ~ the page may take a few moments to load. So thank you for your patience.

This time I've set a simple country table ~ comfortable and not at all fussy.

It didn't feel right to me to overdress the table, knowing there are some who are going without this year.

My thoughts are especially with those who have endured the loss of loved ones this year, those who have lost their homes, as well as those who have lost their jobs.

I thought this would be a good time to set a comfortable, cozy table ~ a place to draw loved ones near to celebrate what is truly important in life.

For the centerpiece I simply plunked some candy canes in a thin, plain beverage glass [CB2], placed it on a Barley twist pedestal [Southern Living at Home, from some years back.]

I clipped a few fragrant Douglas Fir branches from the property and placed them around, then placed a special vintage-style Christmas card from my dear friend,  Linda  and placed a glass cloche over all.

I covered the round walnut table with a tablecloth from Williams-Sonoma, and instead of place mats, I placed a snowy-white vintage German hand worked square linen table topper over the cloth.

In keeping with the theme of simplicity, I gathered just two of my favorite things to place on the table ~
this Limoges hand-painted Christmas ornament box . . . and an old, old brass-framed print I found in an antique store a few years ago.  I love the print; usually it is on the dresser in my bedroom.

For the place settings (from the tabletop - up) ~  I used round Czech platters for chargers [Nell Hill's several years ago], "Merry Christmas" plates, I believe those were from Home Depot a couple of years ago.

Next, my everyday white salad plates [Apilco-France, Williams-Sonoma].

Poinsettia plates [Williams-Sonoma, this season].

Vintage milk-glass compotes to finish the place settings. 

Flatware ~ Pottery Barn from the Savant Collection.
Napkins ~ Neiman-Marcus/Horchow.

My first set of crystal from my newlywed days, many, many years ago ~ by Rogaska; 'Gallia'


To dress the chairs up a bit I draped the extra, matching crochet-trimmed napkins over the tops.

The little cast iron elf candle holders are from CB2, last year's collection. 

A closer look at the Madonna framed print ~
as we remember the Reason for the Season.

Thank you so much for stopping by today. 

 To all who celebrate,
I wish you a most cherished and blessed Christmas from our home to yours.

Please visit Between Naps on the Porch to find a list of all who are participating in Tablescape Thursday this week.


Peppermint Bark Snowflakes

Peppermint Bark Snowflakes
(make them any shape you like by using
other molds or filling various cookie cutters.)

You can also just make the recipe on a silicone pan 
liner (such as silpat®), then break into irregular

Wilton's has instructions to make shaped peppermint
bark ~ HERE.

The process is simple using the typical Peppermint Bark recipe. Choose your favorite type of chocolate; milk, semi-sweet, dark etc., white chocolate, crushed peppermint candies (or candy canes), a small amount of vegetable oil, and a few drops of Peppermint extract.

But instead of spreading the chocolate layers on a sheet pan, I  placed the melted chocolate (spiked with a couple of drops of peppermint extract, optional)
in a silicone mold. 

First the dark layer and placed in the refrigerator until firm.

The melted white chocolate is spread on top of the dark layer and sprinkled with larger pieces of crushed peppermint, then back into the fridge to harden. As soon as the chocolate is firm the candy snowflakes are pushed out of the flexible silicone mold with no problem.

 I used a small cookie scoop to portion the melted chocolate into the molds 
with a minimum of mess, that worked really well. 

Something that I found useful was to use a toothpick to swirl through 
the chocolate in the mold to help move it into the mold's details.

Stacked into little cellophane bags, or candy tins these
make a great little gift from your kitchen.  

If you try them I hope you have fun and enjoy them too!

Happy Holidays!


Bite-Size Savory Tomato & Mozzarella Polenta Cakes

If you've visited my blog before, you probably know that I have an affinity for small, particularly bite-size portions of appetizers (and desserts.)


And here's one that we're really fond of at my house.

Creamy, warm Polenta-Parmesan cakes topped with a cherry tomato half, a little strip of something salty
(prociutto, anchovy filet, or a piece of cooked bacon),  fresh mozzarella ball half (Ciliegini/cherry size) . . .

The best part is, they can be assembled early in the day, and just slipped under the broiler when ready to serve. 

When the cheese has melted and they are golden remove from the oven, garnish with a small basil leaf and enjoy!

It's another well-loved recipe from Donna Hay ~ and if you would like a printable copy of the recipe, you can find it on the Once Upon a Plate Recipe blog by clicking HERE.

If you try these I hope you like them, too. 
Thank you for stopping by to visit today, and for any comments you would like to share. 

A Sampling of my food . . .


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