Adventures In Food and Wine

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Holiday Baking Season is Upon Us!

I have been very busy with work over the past couple weeks. As a dialysis unit, we are generally closed on Sunday BUT we are open 2 Sundays a year; the one before Thanksgiving and the Sunday before Christmas (unless Christmas is on a Sunday). This is so we can close on the holiday to enable the patients and staff to spend that day with their families. Most dialysis patients need their treatment 3 times a week thus we have to be open 6 days a week. I worked the weekend before Thanksgiving and my only day off was Thanksgiving. I also have picked up some overtime due to staff shortages (Christmas $$$). I have some paid days off coming up mid month and Christmas falls during my long weekend so that will be good. Maybe I can get caught up on all the things I have put on the back burner.

I LOVE to bake! I generally begin baking for the holidays shortly after Thanksgiving so I began today with a new to me cookie recipe I got over at the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards. Every year at this time the cookies threads are abundant and I have gotten many a good recipe from them over the past few years. I really enjoy trying new cookie recipes and I think you can never have too many of them! Recipes that is!

Chocolate Chai Snickerdoodles are spicy and crispy on the outside yet tender in the middle. These have a deep chocolate flavor and like a traditional snickerdoodle, are rolled in a sugar/spice mixture before baking.
I made mine just slightly larger than the recipe states since my "cookie" scoop actually holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough. After baking for 17 minutes (my size cookies in my oven) they come out puffed and crispy around the edges.
They passed the "taste test" with the family so I think these will be a keeper and go on the cookie trays this year. They certainly look pretty!
I hope everyone had an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving. Stay tuned to see what else I come up with to make for the Holidays! Until next time...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006



Saturday, November 11, 2006


I love pasta in just about any form and I love spicy foods. When the two meet, it is heaven in a dish as far as I am concerned. I had my eye on a new Rachael Ray recipe from 2,4,6,8 Great Meals for Couples and Crowds that Rachael calls her Daddy's favorite Birthday Dinner, Jambasta!

I have had a jambalya type pasta dish in a restaurant before and really enjoyed it so I had some high expectations. While not exactly the same as I remember, it is pretty darn close and pretty darn good. I used Barilla Plus Penne, Grandessa Chicken Andouille Sausage, and Muir Glen Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes. You have your traditional chopped veggies of garlic, onion, peppers, celery. Add some dried thyme, flour, beer, chicken stock, hot sauce, and your chicken and shrimp. Finish the sauce with a small amount of cream and toss in the pasta. Serve it up in bowls and you have a satisfying meal . By using the Barilla Plus pasta and chicken sausage, I feel less guilty having this dish for the family. One thing I did do differently than the posted recipe was to cook the shrimp separate and use it as a garnish since Chris is allergic to shellfish (poor kid). Let me know if you give this one a try, it will be a repeater here for sure!

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I have a few reviews of some of the products I purchased at Aldi last week.

First up is Grandessa Chicken Sausage, Sweet Apple and Smoked Gouda flavor. These were quite tasty and quick to cook up for a quick meal. I found the quality of these to compare with some of the chicken sausages I have purchased at Trader Joe's.

Next is their Friendly Farms Sharp Cheddar shredded cheese in the 3 cup package. I made some stove top mac and cheese and it melted well and had good flavor. At $1.99 for 3 cups it can hardly be beat.

Frozen Salmon filets were just as good as what I have purchased at Trader Joe's or Costco. This was $3.99 for a package with 4 filets that totaled 1 pound.

Various cold cereals. Their generic version of Honey Bunches of Oats was even better than the original! All were well liked by the boys in the household!

That is it so far. More reviews to come later.

Dinner tonight was a recipe from the Oct/Nov issue of Eating Well Magazine. Every issue there is a feature on re-doing a favorite meal of a select family to make it healthier. In this issue it was Sweet and Sour Chicken. This was quick to fix and well received by all in the family. Randy said while it is not quite like restaurant versions, it had great flavor and was good (Randy was a cook in a Chinese restaurant when he was a teen so he knows Chinese food). I used regular brown rice but you could easily use the instant kind if desired.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Crisp Fall Day

I had the day off work today and after paying bills and doing some stuff around the house, I decided to go grocery shopping. After the recent discussion on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board about Aldi Foods, I decided to check them out again. The last time I did any real shopping at Aldi was probably ten years ago.

Aldi is a no-frills market with mostly their own brand of products with a few national brands occasionally up for sale. First, you pay a quarter to "rent" your grocery cart which you then get back when you plug the cart back into the cart stall. There is very little shelving, most items are still in the boxes they were packed in, you bag your own groceries (and pay a nickel for the bags or bring your own), and there is no one to take the groceries to your car. They have the basics plus now carry fresh meat, wine, beer, and some gourmet items.

Aldi is owned by the same parent company that owns Trader Joe's and I will have to say they are starting to look more like them. The store was cleaner than it has been in the past and despite it being Friday and being busy, I was in and out pretty quickly. I got some great bargains (like a pound of frozen salmon fillets for $3.99) and was impressed with my visit today. I will keep you posted on the quality of the food I purchased.

After all the time I spent in and out running errands on a beautiful fall day, I was in the mood for a fall like dessert to serve with dinner tonight. I found a recipe on for a Pumpkin Bundt Cake and decided to give it a try. I followed the recipe but I think it could be lightened successfully by substituting some applesauce for some of the oil. This baked up beautifully and was very moist. After dusting with some powdered sugar, the family wanted some fresh whipped cream to garnish it with ($1.79 for a pint of heavy whipping cream at Aldi). This will be a repeater for sure. I may have to make one to take into work next week!