Thursday, January 29, 2009

Okie Blog Awards 2008

Hey there! I've got about 7 minuted before I have to get back to work, but I wanted to let you know Okie Blog Award voting is now open. If you're a blogger and you live in Oklahoma, go forth and cast your ballot! One of my favorite blogs, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman
is nominated for Best Overall Blog and Best Looking Blog. AND, my buddy Tasha is nominated twice for Best Culture Blog ( Check out Tasha Does Tulsa and My Life as Told by Food.)

I'm still working my way through the other nominees ( How did I just now discover Irritated Tulsan? Hilarious stuff.) Check out the noms and find your own favorites. RIGHT NOW! Okay, gotta go make money....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore Stew

When it's flippin' freezing outside, nothing is better than a rich, savory stew. I was gonna make a glorious Belgian Beer Braised stew I just discovered but, if you can believe it, we were out of beer. Hmmmm.... so, after a quick search on Simply Recipes Food and Cooking Blog ( a great resource for amazing recipes), I found Chicken Cacciatore. Same ingredients as the Belgian Beer stew except you swap wine for beer and tomatoes for broth. I can handle that. I'm all about swapping things in my recipes. Allegedly, this hunters dish was originally intended to be made with game, but evolved into a chicken dish when Italian wives still had to make dinner when their hubby's came home empty handed.

Since I was feeling stew, I mixed things up a bit further to make it less of a meat entree and more of a one pot meal. I love the rustic quality of this's so textural and full of interest. The great thing is, you can totally add in whatever vegetables you may have and it will still be awesome.

So, without further ado:

Chicken Cacciatore Stew ( Adapted from Simply Recipes, which was adapted from Food and Wine) * My changes noted in orange!

One 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into pieces ( I used 4 chicken thighs, with bone skin on)

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onions
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups peeled and chopped, firm ripe tomatoes (or canned plum tomatoes in their juice) I used a can of diced tomatoes that didn't quite reach 2 cups so I added broth to make up the difference. BEEF broth... no need to get all matchy matchy...use what you have!)
3 small bay leaves for added fun.

Method to the madness:

1 Rinse chicken and pat dry. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat, add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Push the onions to the side. Add the garlic and chicken pieces, skin-side down. Cook until the chicken skin is golden brown, then turn pieces over and brown on the other side. (Ummm, apparently I don't know how to do this. All of my skin stuck. It made for nice brown bits in my new dutch oven! Thanks Mom!)

2 Season chicken with salt and pepper, on both sides. Add wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes (and broth! Oh, the bay leaves, too!), lower the heat and cover the skillet with the lid slightly ajar.

3 Cook the chicken in the simmering liquid, turning and basting from time to time. Cook until the thighs are very tender and the meat is almost falling off the bones, about 40 minutes. If the stew ever starts to dry out, add a couple tablespoons of water.

4. Remove chicken and shred meat off the bone. Discard bones in a way that your cat won't sniff them out because they secretly want to be dogs. Return shredded wonder to pot.

Serves 4-6 ( My version served two with leftovers)

WAIT! Hold the phone! I'm not quite done. You see, I wanted to use up some new potatoes but didn't want them to get all soggy and starchy in the stew. So, I quartered them, and coated them in some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, rosemary, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and paprika ( special color trick.) 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Serve with stew. They were amazing in there.

Aubrey's comments: " Add this to the circuit!" Will do, love. Will do.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ice Storm 2009

So, it just dawned on me that, while I was in la-la land thinking of delicious buttery sandwiches, there is a very real ice storm warning in effect for Northeastern Oklahoma. I don't know how I forgot, seeing that I nearly killed myself in the parking lot at work on the way home and my poor mom called to say she slipped and scraped her knee ( What's up with that? Parents aren't supposed to get hurt! She's messing with my worldview!)

I seriously hope it doesn't get bad, but if it does, maybe the ice will bring down the broken limbs still stuck up in my trees from ice storm 07. This was the scene in my driveway:

It started out pretty serene in the morning until we started hearing insane cracks non-stop. Everything was so silent but for the breaking trees and the falling power lines.

This is my road taken from in front of my house:
We didn't have power for a week. Eventually, I had to go to work and that was quite a lovely day having not showered for about the same amount of time... ( Kindly, a week AFTER I had power returned, my boss asked me if I was still, that's just called a bad hair day, thanks for asking.)

Speaking of looking bad, Aubrey felt the need to wear my robe belt around his head for 4 days straight. ("It's for added warmth!")

Well, we're all set here with firewood, blankets, and all the fixins for chili. Stay warm.

My (current) Favorite Sandwich: French-Style Ham and Cheese

Aubrey and I tested our travel legs in 2005 with a month long European Adventure and we returned to Paris in 2006 for our Honeymoon. However, it wasn't until our return in 2008 that we met the greatest sandwhich known to man. How we ever managed to miss this is beyond me. Granted, the two previous times I was having a love affair with a different assembly of meat and bread ( Doner Kabob...mmm...) but that would mean I'd have to start explaining the fact that I have 500 favorites of everything. Let's just say, this sandwich is pretty amazing.

It's simple and straightforward: French Baguette, say hello to slice of ham, aged swiss and a layer of cold butter. That's it. Primarily served chilled, this sandwich is to France as the cheeseburger is to America. It's the ultimate fast food. Aubrey and I couldn't get enough of these babies... I think we ate about 15 of them in two weeks.

(I was trying to use the self timer to take a photo on a picturesque road - see above- and Aubrey wouldn't stop eating the sandwich for even 5 seconds.)
Since worthy baguettes are hard to come by in my part of the world, I'm forced to get what I can in Tulsa and freeze it to maintain freshness between trips to the mainland. I'm partial to the Rustic Baguette at Farrell Family Organic Bread at 81st and Yale.

Since, I have to thaw now ( and if I'm thinking about this sandwich I must have it RIGHT NOW), I usually pop a piece in the microwave. This equals sogginess.

Since my bread is soggy, I have to crisp it up. So, one day, I was out of swiss and only had gruyere... ( like this was some sacrifice.) I buttered up one side of the sandwich, and put ham and grated gruyere on the other side, broiled until browned and bubbly and.... PERFECTION. My new favorite sandwich! It's not like the ones in Paris but it will definitely do...especially if eaten with classic Dijon mustard and cheese souffle! Behold:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

I've pretty much been an anti-seafood girl all my life. I think it had something to do with the fact that my mom wouldn't cook any of the fish my dad and I caught on our frequent deep sea fishing trips because it's "smelly." Somehow, I adopted her aversion as my own without question. But, now..... I have seen the light. Okay, okay, that light only extends to salmon and shrimp but, man, that's coming a LONG way. Aubrey begs me for some form of seafood every week and I've been harshly turning him down flat for eight years. Now, it's time for a little redemption. ( And, NO, I'm not ready to make crawdads, darling...)

Behold, Scampi Fra Diavolo, adapted from Bon Appetit November 2008.

This dish combines the garlic of scampi with the spice of traditional Shrimp Fra Diavolo in absolute harmony. Oh, and it's super easy to make. Bonus! Serve over rice, orzo, or whatever compatable grain you may have. I used leftover Saffron Rice from French night and it was great.

Scampi Fra Diavolo- Serves 4

3 Tbsp. butter, separated

1/3 c. Panko ( japanese bread available at Wal-Mart, for those of us living in towns without grocery stores.)

1/2 c. chopped, flat leaf parsley

1 1/4 cup uncooked lrg, shrimp with tail on ( I used medium with tail off....I didn't want to put too much effort into this.)

2 Tbsp EVOO ( yeah, I totally forgot this part)

1 1/2 c. Thinly sliced red onion

5 minced garlic cloves

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, dried. ( add more...wimps.)

2/3 c dry white wine

Lemon wedges

1. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and saute panko and parsley until lightly browned.
2. Remove, set aside. Clean out skillet.
3. Melt 2 tbsp butter and EVOO in same skillet and saute onion until almost soft.
4. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; saute 1 min.
5. Add shrimp and saute until just opaque.
6. Add wine and simmer until reduced and thickened... about 2-3 minutes.
7. Season with S/P to taste.

Serve over rice, or whatever, and top with panko mix and lemon wedges.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Family Chili Recipe

Okay, the time has come and the votes are in.......

I'm pleased to report that the Obama Family Chili recipe will definitely be re-elected! It was delicious! Not spicy, exactly ( which gives some insight to the whole Latino vote issue), but satisfyingly unique (I'm thinking it has something to do with the turmeric and vinegar.)

I'd also like to honor this day as a very special occasion...

Our household ushered in a new era of eating brown rice. I've seriously never made brown rice before, always sticking with conventional white. In light of swearing in our first African-American president, I was feeling rather progressive.... AND, for once in my life, I stuck to the recipe exactly, adding only grated cheese and Louisiana Hot Sauce... hey Barack does it, too!

See the recipe in full below ( in the previous post.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration Celebration- Obama Chili

If you’re looking for a fun way to commemorate the inauguration tomorrow and your local Wal-Mart is fresh out of these sandals, look no further!

Let’s kick off the next four years with some spice…. with The Obama Family Chili Recipe, to be exact.

Reportedly, Obama’s favorite thing to make is this chili and he provided the “how-to” himself on Good Morning America. Let’s see if his culinary skills are as promising as his political prowess.

1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground basil
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped
1 can red kidney beans

1.Saute onions, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft.
2.Add ground meat and brown.
3.Combine spices together into a mixture, then add to ground meat.
4. Add red wine vinegar.
5. Add tomatoes and let simmer, until tomatoes cook down.
6. Add kidney beans and cook for a few more minutes.
7. Serve over white or brown rice. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, onions and sour cream.

I’ll be making this tomorrow night so check back to see if Obama gets my vote ( again!)

Image of sandals from

Obama, Obama, Obama....

Aubrey and I were in France when Obama was elected as the next president of the United States. To be more specific, we were staying in this gorgeous chateau built in the 1600s that we happened upon (along our tour following the 101st Airborne’s campaign in Normandy) when we heard the news at about 3:00 in the morning via multiple text messages. It was an amazing moment for our country and quite the experience to hear the news and witness the reaction in Normandy.
For those of you who only hear that the French are snobs and hate America, I have another story to tell you. Though, I can’t speak for the whole of France and all it’s citizens, I can attest to the warmth and welcome we experienced throughout Normandy. We drove for 2 ½ days from Bayeux to St. Mere Eglise, making stops at every beach, including Omaha and Utah, and cities of significance to the 101st Airborne along the way (we’re sorta history buffs as well as foodies.) Everywhere we went, we were treated with respect and kindness…we even walked out on private property to stand at the tree lines of Brecourt Manor where the 101st overtook a German Battery on D-Day and were greeted with smiles and waves.

The point is, in Normandy, we could let our guard down. It was okay to be American….I’m not a closet patriot, by any means, but in Normandy, I felt proud to show it. Following the election, I felt proud everywhere we went. In 2005 and 2006, this was not the case. We actually shoveled in our doner kabob as fast as we could to boogie out of a restaurant when the waiter wanted to start talking about Bush…. (This woman behind the door REALLY wanted to talk to us but only in French... all we could understand was her muttering..."Obama, Obama, Obama....")
Press coverage showed gatherings of people cheering, comics circled around with the Statue of Liberty hugging Obama for dear life, and it was literally like night and day in the way America was portrayed in the global eye… like I said, stuff to remember. I can believe in THAT change (cue campaign theme music.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

French Night-Escargot

Our latest themed dinner party was French night and hosted at our house. We couldn't wait for this opportunity to play french music, drink all our french wine we literally carried on our backs through France, and feel thoroughly fancy...see that new dinnerware? Oh yeah.

Our menu was served in rounds and consisted of:

French Cheeses ( which made my house smell like a fart for a week) with fruit and bread.

Escargot ( provided by me and Aubrey- RECIPE BELOW)

French Onion Soup ( provided by me and Aubrey, too....recipe coming later)

Open Face Steak Sandwiches and garlic bread ( Tammy and John)

Coq a Vin ( Laura and Tanner)

Saffron Rice ( Mikaela)

Mashed Potatoes with Lemon and Rosemary ( April and Steven)

Apple Tarte ( April and Steven)

Blueberry Merlot Sorbet ( Mikaela)

Forgive me for my horrible pic but I was too busy devouring to snap a decent one:

Have you ever tried to make anyone eat Escargot? It's not easy. You have to rely on many tactics, not the least of which is peer pressure and the old line, "You'll never be able to say you had escargot!" Why does this work? Who ever tells their grandkids stories about the day they ate escargot? Well, we were successful in getting 8 out of 9 to try our version and got all around approval ( once, they stop thinking of it as a snail, of course.)

Escargot a La Bourginonne ( Adapted from Julesong at as prepared by 13 Coins in Seattle)

Serves 8

1 cup of softened butter

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

2 shallots, minced well

2 garlic cloves, minced well ( I used 3)

2 tablespoons brandy

32 canned French Snails ( available at Reasors for a low price of $2.89 per 2 dozen, seriously)

32 snail shells ( we got 18 shells-also at Reasors- and prepared the rest in escargot dishes)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine butter, parsley, shallots, garlic, and brandy in a bowl and blend well. ( a food processor was really handy for all the mincing...this took all of 3 minutes.)

3. Place a snail in each shell cavity and fill the cavity with a good amount of the seasoned butter. ( If preparing in an escargot dish, fill each hole with butter and a snail...genius. We preffered the quality and texture of the snail prepared in the dish.)

4. Place on a baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the butter is bubbly.

5. Serve hot with bread!

All in all, these were definitely on par with any escargot I've ever had in France or out. I will totally make them again ( and find some victims to force them upon.) Who knew escargot was actually so inexpensive and easy? Go forth and impress everyone at your next dinner party!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good News, Bad News

The GOOD news is I found a sorta okay burrito in town today at Taco Tico.

The BAD news is that I accidentally read the nutritional information on their website after I ate it. I mean, yeah, I went there looking for it, but I tried not to read it...I really tried.

So, it looks like I'll have to limit my intake to every other meal.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"What I Want" Wednesday

My parents (under threat of sure death) moved us all out to Oklahomaville when I was 15. I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I swore to never, ever, EVER marry or even date a guy from Oklahoma. And, what do I do???? I marry my first boyfriend. In Oklahoma.

My brother (age eight at the time of the reverse Gold Rush) has since moved back to California. My parents are now returning within the next few months. Where does that leave me, you ask?

In Miami, OK. Population: 13,000. Indian Casinos: 9 and counting.

Admitedly, I really like Oklahoma... it suits me. I've got a great husband and a great job. When I can make it out to Tulsa on the weekends, then I get to see my great friends, too. So, what do they got in Cali that I don't got? Bean and Cheese Burritos, that's what. It's officially, what I want RIGHT NOW.

Who can miss a beach or a giant animated mouse when your life is filled with an absence of cheesey perfection? Oh, sure, you can get an imposter can even get an authentic Tex-Mex version. I just haven't been able to find one like I can find almost ANYWHERE in California.
What makes a great bean and cheese burrito? Well, I like to think it starts with great beans that have truly been refried ( most likely with lots of lard and garlic.) Ample amounts of cheddar cheese is called for next, where you can actually detect the difference in texture and flavor from the beans themselves. Finally, it must all be in a soft, lightly grilled ( so it has a subtle charring) and slightly chewy tortilla. This is heaven.
One of the best places to enjoy this culinary masterpiece is the infamous, Family Basket. My Grandpa ( pictured below with husband in matching Family Basket shirts) has gone to the Basket nearly every single day for the last 20 years ( at least, that's as far back as I can remember.) My brother is now making it his personal mission to follow in my Grandpa's legacy.

I have lots of great childhood memories in this little joint, however only ONE of these memories can save me from my misery in pining after a burrito at this very moment.

I believe a loss of appetite is called for...

So, this one day, my dad, Steve (my cousin), and I are eating breakfast at the Basket. My Grandpa is at another table with all of his buddies drinking their morning coffee and proceeding in their ritual of whatever it is that Grandpa's talk about. This crusty guy comes in and says hi to all the guys at my Grandpa's table and starts looking around for a place to sit. My dad offers him a seat with us since he's a friend of Gramps and it's fairly common to be spread out between tables amongst friends here. We order our food and make small talk with the guy...well, my dad does, anyway. I was probably making fun of Stevie ( he didn't call me a terrorist from hell for nothing.) We receive our food and all is silent while we inhale the perfection that is breakfast at the basket.

Then, it happens.....

Out of nowhere, this guy full on throws up on his plate in a fit of heaves and hurls. My dad yells, "Look out the window, Mandy! Steve! Don't LOOK!" "Man, are you okay????" *Grumbles something* "Um, sir, can I help you????"

Guy says, "Nah, I'm fine..." AND CONTINUES TO EAT!! He just picked around his puke.

To this day, I don't know why we sat there and just endured this.... out of respect for my Grandpa and his friends, we just kinda took it. The guy left and my Grandpa comes over to join us....

Dad: "Merv, your friend just puked all over us!"

Grandpa: "My friend? I've never seen that guy in my whole life."

Yeah..... well, I'm good. See ya.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fettucine Alfredo

Fettucine Alfredo has sadly found it's way out of my regular rotation of meals since I decided I needed to lose weight. It's sudden absence might just start to explain how hubby and I recently lost 40 pounds. Each. Yeah, that's a fourth grader.

Lately, though, I've been missing it and, since I want to make these calories count, I shunned Bertolli and went straight to my dear friend, Natasha, for her fabulous alfredo recipe. FROM SCRATCH! I learned how to make this with her last winter when we made noodles FROM SCRATCH to go with it. ( Note: We also tried this in the summer to no success...make noodles in the winter, friends.) I used this handy, pasta press. These will run you about 70 bucks unless you're cool like me and know Natasha who hands these out for housewarming gifts. Seriously. Buy a house and it shows up like magic. Natasha and the gang also show up demanding fresh pasta but that's the price you pay...
Anyway, here's the recipe. I halved it (perfect for two) and added grilled shrimp and mushrooms prepared on the side. ( Butter, shrimp, and mushrooms plus garlic, italian seasoning, and.... presto!)

Natasha's Fettuccine Alfredo from

Click here for a printable version

Serves 4

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
3 large cloves garlic, pressed
12 oz. fettuccine

Put some water on to boil in a large pot.

Melt butter slowly in a medium saucepan. Whisk in cream and bring mixture to a slow boil.
Simmer for five minutes, whisking constantly. Whisk in Parmesan incrementally, making sure cheese is melted before adding more.Add salt, freshly ground pepper and garlic to taste.

If using dry pasta, cook according to package directions, being careful not to overcook.
If using fresh, drop pasta the boiling pot of water all at once. Quickly bring the water back to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta 2-3 minutes, being careful not to overcook, and drain well.

Add sauce to noodles and toss until noodles are thoroughly coated. Serve immediately, with extra cheese and red pepper flakes handed around at the table.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Years!!!

Is it "new year" or "new years"????? I have no clue. Well, if my Grandma can go to a "Wal-Marts" I can wish you happy new years.
We ushered in 2009 with a rockin' karaoke party filled with an abundance of booze, chips, dip, and all the Judds and Queen you can handle. It's become sort of a tradition by popular demand since last year's bash was such a hit. "We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout...." Can you name that tune?
Actually, this is just my friend. We didn't get married in a fever or any other state.
THIS is my husband. He was in a fever due to the fact that he ate approximately 23 jalepenos for lunch. He was a New Years champ right to the end...
I feel sort of guilty because I got him the offenders for Christmas...
Don't feel too bad for him....he's punishing me with a day filled with football. Yuck.
Have a great one!!