Adventures In Food and Wine

Join me in my kitchen while I embark on a journey of cooking and enjoying food and wine.

Friday, March 31, 2006


Yesterday was a beautiful day here in central Indiana so we decided it was time to break in the grill for this season. I really enjoy cooking on the grill for many different reasons. First of all, it tastes good! I enjoy sitting outside minding the grill and listening to the sounds of warm weather. Last evening I enjoyed the sounds of motorcycles, kids playing, birds singing, and even the sound of the Ice Cream Truck!

Now on to the food. We had a pork tenderloin recipe that is a favorite of ours. Island Pork Tenderloin is from an issue of Cuisine at Home Magazine. The original recipe is for broiling the pork and has a grill option. I have never broiled this since we love the grilled version so much. You make a spicy dry rub for the tenderloins and a Mojo basting sauce. Place the tenderloins on the hot grill and baste as they cook. Pork tenderloin grills up quick and flavorful.
On the side we had a dish that I adapted from the International Cooking show I went to last week. Caribbean Peas 'N Rice is simple to prepare and the flavors complimented the pork tenderloin deliciously. I used brown basmatti rice and canned pigeon peas. You begin by cooking a small amount of diced bacon, add some onion, garlic, and red bell pepper and saute until softened. Add the water, seaonings, peas, tomato paste, and rice and cook until the liquid is absorbed. I used Hungarian Hot Paprika to give it an extra kick.
I served these up with a tossed salad with a Sweet Dijon Vinaigrette and we called it a meal. This meal was well received by all! Oh, and for dessert, I did my best Sandra Lee imitation and mixed a box of Angel Food Cake mix with a can of crushed pineapple and baked it! Quick and simple anyway! So take that SL, I can do Semi Homemade also! Check out Sweetnicks today for a Sandra Lee send up!

That is all for today folks. Check back in soon to see what's cookin'.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Playing catch up

I have been very busy lately with other obligations and have been neglecting the blog. Spring cleaning and trying to eliminate some junk at home this week since I am on vacation until Saturday. One of my goals is to weed through the many cooking magazines I have stockpiled and take them in to the breakroom at work.

I also have been having a problem being dizzy and lightheaded. I asked the doctor and she did a manipulation to my head and decided that I have Benign Paroxsymal Positional Vertigo. There are calcium crystals deep in the inner ear that are floating around in an area they are not supposed to be in and when they hit the walls of the inner ear canals, they make you dizzy. Some days are worse than others and can make me feel very nauseous also. It should clear up on its own. If I am not better soon, I guess I will have to go back to the doctor for further testing.

Last week my friend Michele and I attended an International Cooking Show that was held by the Madison County Homemakers Extension. It was a fun afternoon with many booths representing different countries and cultures. You received a small sample of the foods prepared and a booklet with all the recipes. There were so many to sample that we filled our trays twice in order to try everything! We only had a couple that we both agreed were not very tasty and we experienced some foods we had never tried before. One dish from The Bahamas that was a simple Peas and Rice contained Pigeon Peas which we had never tasted. It was very good and will be on the menu here soon. Oatmeal Cakes from Scotland were a bit dry and bland, however they are really to be served with hot tea or coffee for dunking. Here is a shot of one of my trays.

I have been challenging myself to use some of the food in my freezer and my pantry and not rush out and buy new ingredients. I had some dried beans to use and I came up with a recipe for White Beans and Greens. This is an easy dish and can be modified to your own tastes. Any type of white bean could be used and any type of green. I used navy beans and spinach since this is what I had on hand. I found it very tasty. DH and Zac would have liked it better without the spinach however.

Update on Angus the cat. His stitches were removed yesterday and he is looking and feeling much better. He still has a bandage since the doctor wants to protect the suture line for a few more days. He is anxious to return to the outside world and explore once again! I find him staring out the windows quite frequently.

I want to officially issue a big congratulations to Anna of Cookie Madness for winning the Pillsbury Bake Off! Anyone who can create a savory dish out of Dunkables deserves to win! You can find her recipe and the other winning dishes here.

That is it for now. I have added a link for people to subscribe to my blog since I have cut back on the blogging. If you choose to subscribe, you will receive an e-mail notification when the blog is updated. Check back in to see what's cookin.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Angus update and my birthday dinner

First off, Angus went back to the vet today. He has healed well and there is no further tissue damage. He is staying the night tonight and his wound is being sutured close. This is great news! The vet was afraid he would require skin grafts to close the wound but since he has healed so well it will not be needed.

Yesterday was my birthday and I generally enjoy preparing my own dinner. I have never made coconut shrimp so that was what I decided to tackle. Using a Paula Deen recipe I found it to be a little time consuming but worth it in the end. You dip the peeled and deveined shrimp in some flour, then beaten egg, then a combination of coconut and bread crumbs (I used Panko). Fry them up and serve with an orange marmalade dipping sauce. I wanted a little heat so I mixed some horseraddish in with the orange marmalade which made a very tasty sauce indeed!
We had this with a simple tossed salad.

For dessert I decided against a cake and went with another recipe of Paula's, Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding is so decadent and good! You use Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies instead of Vanilla Wafers and the pudding has cream cheese in it. By far the tastiest banana pudding I have ever had.
Coconut Shrimp
Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

One last thing. I saw this site on the way home today on a sign at a drugstore, so I had to take a photo.
What the heck? Am I missing something here? I wouldn't think this would be a big seller at a drugstore? Do you think I should submit this to Jay Leno?

Friday, March 17, 2006


Cooking post to follow.

I got up yesterday morning and my cat Angus was bleeding. He had a wound on his neck and on his left leg. I thought he had been hit by a car. DH and I took him to the vet and it turns out he had an extensive infection under the skin that had begun to drain. About a month ago I pulled a thorn from his neck and it only bled a little at the time and he seemed fine. It is possible that this is where this came from. He has an open wound that is packed and is on some powerful antibiotics. He may require another surgery to close the wound if any more tissue dies.

Here he is with his new neck gear.

Check out all the other cute and hopefully healthy kitties this weekend at Eat Stuff.

Busy Week

We had a busy week this week and I unfortunately did not try many new recipes. Many tried and trues this week, although I did manage a couple new dishes.

First up we had Peppercorn-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Soy-Caramel Sauce.This comes from the December 2005 issue of Cooking Light. I really enjoy Pork Tenderloin because it is quick to fix and seems to accept many different flavors. This dish comes together quickly and has a good subtle flavor. I was really surprised that the pepper was not more pronounced. The sauce was just slightly sweet and not overpowering. Click on the recipe title under the photos for the recipes.

Peppercorn-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Soy-Caramel Sauce
from Cooking Light Magazine, December 2005

To accompany this we had a new side dish recipe from a sample issue of Cook's Country that I received in the mail. Broccoli with Lemon and Pecans.
This was a very easy dish and very tasty. The original recipe used walnuts instead of pecans, but since pecans were what I had available, I used them.

Broccoli with Lemon and Pecans
adapted from Cook's Country, sample issue

Another new recipe tried came from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Dinners (sorry, no picture this time). Roast Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary Roast Potatoes is a bit time consuming, but I thought it was worth it. You season a nice chicken with salt and pepper in the morning and refrigerate it until ready to roast. Meanwhile, parboil some potatoes with garlic and a whole lemon. You then prick the lemon and stuff it and the garlic inside the chicken along with some fresh thyme. Rub the chicken down with some olive oil and roast. At the half-way point, add the potatoes to the pan along with some bacon on top of the breast meat if desired. Finish roasting and serve with the bacon crumbled on top of the potatoes and the garlic smashed and rubbed on the chicken.

I was planning a traditional St. Patrick's day dinner of Corned Beef and Cabbage with Brown Butter Soda Bread (both have been posted before) and I have even prepared this for dinner. However, Zac has a band competition that he failed to tell us about until the last minute so the dinner will go on hold until tomorrow.

Check back in later this week to see what's cookin'. Until then.

Friday, March 10, 2006

For you "24" fans

No real dinner report tonight. I simply cooked up some jumbo shrimp and we had shrimp cocktail and tossed salad.

Just an observation for all the "24" fans out there.

President Logan and President Nixon--seperated at birth?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Dinner Tonight-Pepper Steak

I had a hankering for Pepper Steak tonight and with extra beef in the deep freeze and some red bell peppers to use, I went on a search for a new recipe. I came up with a winner from Rachael Ray, Pepper Steak and Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms. While this recipe does call for a boxed rice pilaf mix, it is a product that I do use and trust, Near East.

You begin by sauteing some chopped mushrooms, then add some water and the Near East Rice Pilaf (I used a Brown Rice Pilaf). While this simmers, you sear some strips of beef, using a good cut of meat such as some tenderloin or sirloin. Remove from heat and saute up the peppers and onions. The sauce is made from flour, sherry, beef consumme, and tomato paste. Serve the pepper steak over the pilaf for a quick and tasty weeknight meal.

On the side I prepared the salad that was served with this meal on the show, Mixed Salad with "House Dressing." This was a quick salad, although the dressing seemed to be lacking something. Maybe I just needed to add more salt. It was allright, but not as good as the Pepper Steak. All in all, a quick and satisfying meal.


Monday, March 06, 2006

A Toast to Me and a Double Duty Recipe!

First of all, a big toast to me! I passed the Certified Nephrology Nurse Exam! Everyone from my organization passed! What a big relief. So if you are enjoying a glass of wine this evening, lift a toast to me!

Now on to the Double Duty Recipe! This is a recipe of Rachael Ray's that I modified a bit to use some ground sirloin I had in the freezer. Florentine Meatballs combine all the wonderful ingredients of meatballs along with spinach (which officially qualifies me as a Sneaky Mom).
I actually made these on Friday and served Meatball Subs on my own homemade sub buns.
The recipe originally makes 12 large meatballs, but I made 30 small meatballs. It is a Double Duty recipe because I had enough meatballs left over to make Spaghetti with Meatballs this evening for dinner. Cook once and use twice, what a great concept!

I came home from work Saturday and DH surprised me with a new computer! Ours was about 5 years old and on it's last leg. I have been spending what time I have had over the weekend trying to get my login set up the way I wanted and transferring files and such. It is a big job, but fun none the less. The old computer will become Zac's for him to use until it dies a slow and painful death (or it may be a fast death with Zac at the helm).

That is it for this evening. I am off to get my Monday 24 fix, which is a 2 hour fix this week. Be sure to check out The Savory Notebook for the VRC roundup of the week and tune in to Sweetnicks tomorrow for ARF Tuesday. Check back later this week to see what's cookin.

Meatball Subs using Florentine Meatballs

Spaghetti and Florentine Meatballs

Friday, March 03, 2006

Recipe Catch-up

I thought it was about time I got caught up talking about the recipes I have made over the last week.

Most of these came from the wonderful folks over at the Cooking Light Bulletin Board. First up we have Pasta Rustica with Chicken Sausage and Three Cheeses. This was an easy weeknight meal to put together and it was very good. Gooey and cheesey and kid friendly. I again used Barilla Plus Pasta. I only wish this stuff came in more shapes! I did read a story in my newspaper today about the growing popularity of whole grain pasta and how the quality has improved in the last few years. Maybe we will be seeing more unusual shapes in the future.

Pasta Rustica with Chicken Sausage and Three Cheeses
adapted from the Cooking Light Bulletin Board

Next we have a stew recipe that has been in my to try list for a long time. West African Chicken Sausage and Groundnut Stew. This is an interesting dish since it contains peanut butter. The peanut butter is the "groundnut" of this stew and it thickens the dish as well as adding an unusual flavor. This was quite good and spicey.

West African Chicken and Groundnut Stew
adapted from the Cooking Light Bulletin Board

While perusing the boards lately, I came across a post by a very prolific cook and baker known as valchemist. She had conducted a taste test of several granola recipes and posted the recipes along with her results and reviews. Down to Earth Granola received high prase from valchemist so I gave it a try. This is a simple and tasty granola with just the right amount of crunch. I have made 2 batches with the addition of some walnuts in the second batch. I love mixing granola with yogurt and it is really much more economical to make your own granola.

Lastly we have a recipe of my own creation. I have recently done an inventory of my deep freeze after reading about Alysha at The Savory Notebook doing one. I knew I had many items in there to use up, among them several packages of pork loin chops. I was looking in the pantry and noticed a can of Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup. DH really likes souped up entrees so I came up with Mustard-Mushroom Chops over Brown and Wild Rice. This would be a nice weeknight meal also with the rice taking the longest to cook. Once I got the rice going, it was easy to put the rest of the meal together.

Mustard-Mushroom Chops over Brown and Wild Rice
from Patti's Kitchen

That's all fo tonight. Be sure to check in later this weekend to see what's cookin. Until then.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Inexpensive Wine Alert! Delicato Shiraz in the Bota Box!

Delicato Shiraz is available as a boxed wine. Yes, I said a boxed wine. Now I have tried boxed wines in the past only to think they tasted like cheap vinegar. This is GOOD, inexpensive wine.
Delicato's boxed wines are in what they call a "Bota Box." They promise to deliver quality wine in a box that will keep for up to a month after opening (mine never has a chance to last that long). It has an innovative drip free tap that is easy to use and the box is easy to store in the cabinet or refrigerator. The bota box is available also in Merlot and Chardonnay. I have never tried any of the other varietals since I like the Shiraz so much. I am also not a big Merlot or Chardonnay fan.

I purchase the Bota Box at my local Meijer Supermarket for approximately $15.00 per box. Each box is equivalent to 4 bottles of wine which amounts to about $3.75 per bottle. Not too bad in my book. An added bonus is that Meijer often has it on sale for $12.99.

So if you are in the market for some inexpensive but good wine for everyday, I highly recommend the Bota Box from Delicato Vineyards.