19 December 2011

Peppermint Bark...

Brace yourself. I'm about to publish the most complicated holiday recipe I have. The number of ingredients is astounding. But, I think you can do it. I have faith in you. I included pictures though, just in case.

  • 3 bags dark chocolate chips (I guess you could use milk chocolate, if you like that inferior "chocolate")
  • 2 bags white chocolate chips 
  • Peppermint extract
  • Candy canes
Melt dark chocolate chips in the microwave. I set the microwave for 1 minute and than 30 second increments until it's all melted, stirring between each round. Add a couple drops of peppermint extract (a little goes a very, very long way!).

Spread the melted dark chocolate on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper, lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Put the cookie sheet in the fridge.

Now, it's time to take out your frustrations on innocent candy canes. I find a ziplock bag and a meat tenderizer really do a great job. You basically want candy cane pieces and dust.

By now, your dark chocolate should be hardened. It's time to melt the white chocolate in the same way you melted the dark.

Add some of your candy cane pieces & dust to the white chocolate and stir to combine.

Spread the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate in an even layer. Add additional candy cane pieces and dust to the top, using the back of the wooden spoon to press it lightly into the white chocolate. Back into the fridge until white chocolate is hardened.

Break the peppermint bark into pieces and enjoy all of the swooning and compliments you received. Make sure you mention how very challenging the recipe is.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

19 September 2011

A plethora of recipes...

Yesterday I baked. And I cooked. And I prepped.

I baked:

Healthified Ginger-Pear Muffins, but used apples instead of pears.
Healthified Fresh Apple Cake
Healthified Raspberry Bars, but used Strawberry preserves instead of Raspberry

I completely prepped (so all we had to do was turn the crockpot on)

Steak Fajitas with Tomato Corn Relish, and added jalapenos to the relish

and I cooked

Healthified Mediterranean Chicken Panini for last night's dinner/lunch leftovers.

The fajitas were delicious, although they weren't really fajitas. The bars were delicious, would definitely make again. The muffins were good and the panini was ok, but those thin, sandwich rounds could not hold up. We haven't tasted the cake yet.

My feet really hurt last night.

06 September 2011

Italian Eggs Benedict....

I've been wanting to make this for a while now. I actually read about it years ago in a men's magazine, they claimed it was a great "morning after" meal. :-) I've taken to calling it "Italian Eggs Benedict."

I actually bought everything to make this for dinner a couple weeks ago. But, I used the basil for something else and the baguette became so hard it was only good as a baseball bat. But, I picked up a loaf of Salem Sourdough from Cascade Baking Co on Saturday, knowing Sunday would be a great day to make this.While the recipe above looks great, it was early and we were trying to diagnose an overheating problem in the car (fan relay failed, if you are interested) so I wanted something even quicker.

1 jar of your favorite marinara
Eggs (you can easily cook 6 - I cooked 4 and had a lot of sauce left over)
Crusty Bread
Parmesan Cheese (the real stuff, none of that powdered crap)

Heat the entire jar of marinara in a large skillet.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add marinara and adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Crack an egg into a small bowl, taking care not to break the yolk. Make a well in the sauce roughly large enough to hold the egg and slip it in so that the yolk and most of the white is contained (some white may spread out). Repeat with the remaining eggs, evenly spacing them around the pan.

Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until desired poached done-ness.

Toast slices of bread.

Serve toasted bread with slice prosciutto with egg and sauce on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Next time, I probably will use pancetta instead of the prosciutto, just because it's less delicate.

Sit back and enjoy, delighting in the fact that you made such an wonderful, delicious meal with only 5 ingredients and hardly any energy.

02 September 2011

Stan the Welder Man...

For as long as I can remember, we had Volkswagens. When I was in elementary school, my dad drove a metallic Blue Bug with bubble windows to work every morning. I learned to drive on a Red Rabbit that was missing first gear as well as reverse. When that one died, I drove a Blue Rabbit - when the starter went out instead replacing it, my dad installed an on-off switch under the dashboard to start my car. The Christmas before I turned 17, he worked in secret with his best friend to rebuild a motor for a 1974 Volkswagen Bug for me. While the other kids at my high school were driving their parents' fancy cars, I was driving the best car around with a super sweet engine. I loved that car.

During all those years, we spent A LOT of time at the VW shop. Autocraft was our home away from home. My dad would take my sister and I on a Saturday and we would be there for what felt like hours. I went in a couple weeks ago to get my brother-in-law a gift certificate for his birthday and I asked how long they had been open. 35 years. I told the owner I had been coming in for 31 of those years, with my dad, Stan. His reply? "Stan the welder man, he was a good guy." I wonder how many hours my dad stood there bullshitting with him? Probably more hours than I can ever imagine.

Today marks nine years since I saw my dad's face, held his hand, heard his voice. It was good to talk to someone else who remembers him too. Sometimes it feels like only my sister and I remember. 

05 August 2011

Baked Zucchini and Potato Chips

After making this wonderful tian, I had plenty of leftover slices of zucchini and red potato. We love fried zucchini and who doesn't love potato chips, but we a) prefer it healthier and b) don't like the mess of frying at home. So, to the oven I went for these super easy recipes.

Unfried Zucchini
I threw the slices into a bowl of egg substitute.  I then put each slice in a pan of panko bread crumbs (LOVE the texture), kicked up with salt, pepper and some parmesan cheese and made sure both sides had plenty of breadcrumbs. I laid them out in a single layer on a baking sheet covered in foil (no mess!) that I had sprayed with cooking spray. Let them cook at 350 until they are golden brown, maybe 20 minutes? or so. I let mine go a little long so they were nice a crispy. We ate them with ranch dressing I made from a packet of ranch, low fat sour cream, milk and a small dollop of light mayo (I would have preferred greek yogurt, but we were out).

Potato Chips
Spray foiled line baking sheet with cooking spray and lay out potato slices in single layer. Spray potatoes with cooking spray and salt. Back at 350 until desired doneness. We like them crispy, which maybe took about 20 minutes.

Sorry for the lack of photos. They went way to quickly to document! But just posting this makes me want to go home and make more of both tonight.

26 May 2011

Coconut Milk Chicken with Spicy Pineapple Sauce

A twitter friend mentioned this Polynesian Chicken Wrap recipe he had made the night before. It sounded so delicious, I decided to give it a try and adapt it for us. We loved it. It was unlike anything I have made before. It was a touch sweet and the chicken was so tender. Will definitely make again!


  • Brown rice, cooked according to package
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Shredded coconut
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple in heavy syrup, drained with syrup reserved
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 -3 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Red Pepper Flakes


  1. Place the chicken and coconut milk (reserve about 1/3 cup of coconut milk for sauce) in a bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator 4 hours.
  2. Toast coconut in a dry pan over medium heat, stiring constantly.
  3.  In a medium bowl, mix the crushed pineapple, 1/3 cup coconut milk, cornstarch and ground ginger. Gradually stir in enough of the reserved pineapple juice to make the mixture smooth. Add red pepper flakes to your liking. 
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, blend orange juice and maple syrup. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until clear and thickened. Mix in the pineapple mixture. Continue to cook and stir until well blended and thick, about 15 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the flour, curry powder, and garlic salt. Drain the chicken, and discard marinade. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture to coat.
  6. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the coated chicken strips 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and juices run clear.
  7. Serve chicken and sauce over brown rice.

14 May 2011

14 April 2011

I love...

Librarians!! Salem-Keizer School District is about to cut all of the librarians that serve kindergarten through eighth grade. These librarians do more than shelve books and direct kids to the right area. They teach technology, they teach kids how to research, they teach kids how to use resources, they teach kids so much more. Classroom teachers can not do it all!

Join the cause at http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-heart-Public-School-Libraries/140518699350053 and support your school librarians!

10 February 2011

Spice Rack...

A long, long time ago in a neighborhood not very far away, the charming writer of Desperately Seeking Salem, Emily, blogged about the spice rack her husband made for her.  I was inspired by this and decided to give it a go.  I knew my sister needed a spice rack and thought this would be the perfect Christmas gift for her.  I asked her to start keeping my niece's baby food jars and hand them over (Yes, she gave me the supplies for her own Christmas gift) and started formulating a plan.

I wanted the jars to be magnetic, I planned on mounting a piece of metal flashing under the lip of the cabinet. I also wanted to use chalkboard paint on the front in order to use chalk to label each jar.  So that's what I did.

I taped off a rectangle on each jar and painted chalkboard paint within (3 coats).  I let them dry for several days between coats and removed the tape after the last coat had a couple more days to dry.

Using a high shine, black spray paint, I sprayed the outsides of the baby food jar lids. They needed two coats.  Once dried (again, several days later), I used a permanent glue to secure the magnets to the lids.

I bought my spice packets at Cost Plus and gave my sister a set of 18 spice jars, about 10 of them I pre-filled with spices and one of the jars to hold the chalk.

I also used the chalkboard paint on large glass storage jars that I bought at Ikea.  She can use these for pasta, flour, sugar, etc.

Drawback? They probably need to be handwashed.

Too bad the niece is done with baby food.  I really want a set for myself.  Might need to just buy the baby food to get the jars.

06 February 2011

Homemade Crackers...

Inspired by the (I think) homemade crackers that David serves with his chicken salad at La Capitale, I decided to try my hand at making crackers. I had a thyme cheese ball recipe I wanted to use them with.  I did a quick search on the Food Network's web site, and decided to go with Ina Garten's Parmesan and Thyme Crackers. I made a batch with fresh thyme and a batch with fresh rosemary and they were both delicious and so very easy.  These crackers are very much like a savory shortbread.  In fact, they were so good, and so addicting, I just ate the plain.  No need for the cheese at all!


  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until creamy.
  • Add the Parmesan, flour, salt, thyme and pepper and combine (I added about 1/4 cup of water after everything was mixed in order to get everything to combine).
  • Dump the dough on a lightly floured board and roll into a 13-inch long log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cut the log crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a sheet pan and bake for 22 minutes.