Sunday, May 27, 2007

The amount of work which this farm requires, especially during the nice-weather months, amazes me. There’s always something to do, and my hammock is calling to me as well. ;) Today the thermometer is inching up toward 90˚ and I find that I can work better if I go outside for 20 minutes, then inside for a half hour. I’ve accomplished surprisingly much so far today, but this may be it. My last session out, as I was tugging maple seedlings out of a bed of pachysandra, I noticed a lot of three-leaved vines growing in the groundcover as well. Uh oh. I quickly dumped all of the weeds into the wheelbarrow and came indoors to—douse my legs with beer! Yes, it works. The alcohol breaks the bind which the poison ivy oil has on the skin. Of course, you can use rubbing alcohol as well, but that was the whole way upstairs in the bathroom cupboard and time is of the essence. It should be applied 10 minutes after exposure. Now I’m not entirely certain that I brushed up against any of the plant, but better safe than sorry. So I opened a bottle of Killian’s Red (not my favorite Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre) and applied it liberally with a paper towel. I walked into Jack’s office, where he is working, and his head snapped up. Yep, beer perfume sure is the way to attract him. I split the remainder of the bottle with my husband and now neither of us wants to work any more this afternoon!

But we will. Another session or two outside and I will feel better about setting aside a couple of hours tomorrow to celebrate Memorial Day—in a hammock.

Lunch today was a quickly put-together one. I had some cold whole wheat pasta in the refrigerator, and some cooked black beans, both leftovers from previous meals. When I looked in the veggie drawer of the refrigerator I quickly decided on a pasta salad. Jack is not fond of cold meals, but some days I just can’t fathom turning on the stove. Besides, I turned off my big ol’ commercial stove at the wall at the gas line so the 11 pilot lights wouldn’t be contributing heat to the kitchen.

This turned out to be a great salad. Next time I will decrease the carrot and add tomatoes (which I am out of right now) and I think that will make it even better.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Mexican Pasta & Bean Salad

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- -----------------------------------------

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 ounces black beans, cooked -- (about 1/2 of a 15-ounce can)

1 large garlic clove -- crushed

1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper

3 ounces carrot -- shredded

3 ounces red bell pepper -- chopped

1/4 cup frozen corn kernels – thawed

1 small avocado -- diced

4 ounces cooked pasta -- whole wheat preferred

1 ounce queso fresco – crumbled

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a medium bowl, combine the oil through the chipotle pepper. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Serve with baked tortilla chips.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 409 Calories (kcal); 20g Total Fat; (41% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; 5mg Cholesterol; 45mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 10 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

For a few weeks, we have been eating our meals outside as often as possible (I’m finally able to get Jack to admit that it’s not so bad sharing your meals with a couple of bugs). Sunday breakfast is especially enjoyable, although in a couple of weeks it will be too hot to eat outside since the patio is on the east side of the house. We set up a stool for Spooky to lounge on, and before I know it an hour will have passed.

A very civilized way to begin the day.

I now need to finish my outside work then take a shower—I’m reminding myself of the smell of the basement party rooms of the various fraternity houses which my friends & I frequented during our college years… not really a pleasant memory! :)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Grilled Chicken & Mango Kebabs (and baby bugs to look at!!!)


At our house, the season is signaled not by a date, but by the appearance of the first case of mangos from Sam’s Club. Yes, they carry these mostly year ‘round but to me mangos are a summertime-only treat. I bought a case this past Monday and by Friday night, the start of Memorial Day weekend, they were perfectly ready to use. Mango daiquiris were first (the dilemma—plain rum or coconut rum? Jack chose coconut.). And this was followed by a grilled dinner featuring mangos. I found this recipe in an issue of Canadian Living 4 years ago and it remains a favorite.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Grilled Chicken and Mango Kebabs

Recipe By: Canadian Living

Servings : 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- --------------------------------

1 teaspoon lime rind

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 large garlic cloves -- minced

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- cut into 1/2" cubes

2 teaspoons honey

1 large mango -- cubed

1 large bell pepper -- 1/2" pieces

2 ounces sweet onion -- cut into 3/4" "skewerable" chunks

2/3 cup rice -- cooked and kept warm

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime rind through the hot sauce.

Place chicken in a covered container and pour about 1/3 of the marinade over; toss to mix, cover, refrigerate for 20 minutes to 4 hours.

To the remaining marinade, add the honey. Set aside.

Preheat grill on medium-high heat.

Thread pepper and onion pieces on skewers. Thread mango cubes on a separate skewer. Thread chicken cubes on a separate skewer and place on a large plate or baking tray. Spray chicken on all sides with cooking spray and place on grill. Cook, with the lid closed, for 3 minutes. Turn chicken and baste cooked part with the marinade. Add the pepper and onion skewers (as with the chicken, spray with cooking spray first) and place on grill. Brush peppers and onions with marinade. Close lid for 2 minutes.

Turn vegetables and chicken skewers and brush with marinade. Cover grill and cook for 2 minutes. Spray mango skewers with cooking spray and add to grill. Turn chicken and vegetable skewers a final time and brush with marinade. Also brush mangos with marinade. Cover and cook for one minute. Turn mango skewer and brush all skewers with more marinade. Cook one last minute.

Remove everything from the skewers, drizzle and remaining marinade on top and toss gently. Serve over hot cooked rice.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 553 Calories (kcal); 10g Total Fat; (15% calories from fat); 33g Protein; 85g Carbohydrate; 66mg Cholesterol; 405mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 3 1/2 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fruit; 22 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

We’re not doing much of anything special for the holiday weekend. I need to get that garden planted so next week I can pick up a couple of bales of hay and mulch between the rows. We desperately need rain and I’ve been putting off this chore but with any luck some storms will come in later today (or so the weather weenies forecasted).

My spirea have been invaded by tiny green aphids and the part for my sprayer which I had ordered 2 weeks ago finally arrived yesterday. I only spray pesticides when necessary and, in this case, the little pests can be taken care of with insecticidal soap. So I was checking out the plants last evening and saw baby praying mantises everywhere. Babies! We have a lot of the adults hanging around later in the summer, but I’ve never seen any so tiny.

Bear in mind that the leaves are only 1”-1 ¼ “ long.

And since I had the camera outside…

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pasta with Pesto Sauce and Vegetables

It was another work-outside day. The beans and spinach are up in the garden, so I planted the zucchini and cucumber plants which I had started last month and then had to do some extensive fence repair. I think that bunny rabbits are adorable, but not when they're in my garden!

I went for a run mid-day to energize myself (oddly, it seems to work) and found that, since my run last Thursday, the bazillions of blackberry bushes in our fields have burst into flower. What a fragrance! Not as sweet as the wild honeysuckle, which peaked last week, but still very intoxicating.

By the time 6pm rolled around, I was tired and decided to rely on pasta to build a quick dinner around. The asparagus patch is still producing quantities, and I had some frozen pesto sauce, so I put those together with some other veggies which were in the refrigerator. All told, it took about 20 minutes to make dinner and it was really good.

Because pesto sauce is high in fat (although it's mostly the good, monosaturated kind) I blended 2 tablespoons with a quarter cup of milk to make a creamy sauce, and I added some extra fresh basil to pump up the basil taste. Now, for my pasta dishes I allow portion control to slip a little. Jack thinks that 2 ounces of dried pasta per serving is ridiculous, so he gets 4! So I suppose that this recipe actually makes 3 servings if you're being "good". ;)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Pasta with Pesto Sauce and Vegetables

Recipe By: Vicci
Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
5 ounces whole wheat pasta
6 ounces asparagus
4 ounces red bell pepper
4 ounces zucchini
2 tablespoons drained pesto sauce
1/4 cup milk
1 ounce parmesan cheese -- grated

Prepare pasta as directed, omitting oil.

Using a large nonstick saute pan, stir-fry the vegetables until crisp-tender.

Stir pesto sauce and milk together until combined. Add to vegetables. Add drained pasta and stir until all is heated through. Stir in fresh herbs, if desired.

Divide among serving bowls. Sprinkle with cheese and s&p to taste.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 360 Calories (kcal); 7g Total Fat; (15% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 62g Carbohydrate; 15mg Cholesterol; 288mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 3 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Note: I didn't give instructions on how to cut the vegetables because it depends on the shape of the pasta being used. Linguine would require longer, thinner juliennes while small shells need to be paired with veggies chopped into smallish pieces.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Chilly Day Chili

A chilly, rainy spring day deserves chili!

This is a recipe which I have worked on for a few years now and I think that I finally have it right. I made it for my parents once and Mom & I decided not to tell my Dad that there was “fake meat” in it. He raved about this chili at dinner, then a few days later as he was describing it to friends, Mom couldn’t hold the secret any longer and confessed. She has since made it several times and even my youngest brother, who would eat only meat for all three meals if he could get away with it, enjoyed the chili. Of course, he will never know that it’s good for him!

This chili is packed with good stuff. I love the smokiness which the ground chipotle gives it. With 3 servings of vegetables, 25g protein, 11g fiber, and 5g total fat (only 1 saturated) per serving, this chili is a nutrition-packed, warming meal. I serve it topped with sour cream, shredded lowfat cheddar, cilantro (lots for me!) and have steamed corn tortillas alongside.

For the next day, leftover chili is served on a bed of shredded lettuce with cheese, tomato, and avocado for a filling taco salad (baked tortilla chips alongside).

Now, for those who eat red meat (which which we do not), you can sub lean ground beef for the ground turkey and low-sodium beef broth for the chicken broth and it will have a meatier taste, yet with the veggie crumbles and beans, will be healthier and lower in fat than chili made with all ground beef and a lesser quantity of beans.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Vicci's Chili

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 6

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- --------------------------------

8 ounces ground turkey

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried ground chipotle pepper -- optional

1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried oregano -- (Mexican oregano preferred)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/8 teaspoons ground black pepper

3 large garlic cloves -- minced

8 ounces Morningstar Farms veggie crumbles -- (Boca's burger crumbles may also be


29 ounces canned crushed tomatoes

3 ounces tomato paste

18 ounces canned black beans -- approximately 2 15-ounce cans (may also use a mixture

of black, kidney, and/or pinto beans). Drain and rinse before using.

6 tablespoons light sour cream

Heat a a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add ground turkey. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned. Scoop turkey onto a large cutting board and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place the skillet back over the heat and add the chopped peppers. Stir for 2 minutes, then add the onion and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute. Add the broth, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil.

In the meantime, chop the ground turkey into small bits. Add to the tomato mixture along with the burger crumbles. When the mixture comes to a boil, cover and turn down the heat. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.

Uncover and add beans. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring as it thickens.

Serve topped with sour cream.


"9 cups"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 283 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat; (16% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 33g Carbohydrate; 31mg Cholesterol; 1060mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 3 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Other toppings for the chili can also include (lowfat) shredded cheese, minced cilantro, chopped tomato and/or avocado.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rice Noodles with Vegetables in Curry Sauce

I knew that I was going to come home late Monday afternoon and prepared dinner as much as I could beforehand. Because my refrigerator is overflowing with vegetables (and the asparagus patch is producing, too), I decided to make a vegetarian dinner. Curried vegetables sounded nice, and there were quick-cooking rice noodles in the pantry, so I put together an Asian-inspired meal.

Before leaving in the morning, I made the sauce ahead of time and cut most of the vegetables. This is a really simple recipe, and although I used asparagus, broccoli, red bell pepper, carrots, zucchini, and onion, you could also use bean sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, and many other veggie varieties. The sauce contains light coconut milk and skim milk, to cut down on the saturated fat, but all light coconut milk may also be used. I add a little coconut extract almost at the end of the cooking time to pump up the coconut flavor more (adding it earlier in the process, however, allows the flavor to cook away).

All told, the entire meal took about 20 minutes to put together after I got home, and it was very good. I love cilantro, and my herb garden is overflowing with it, so I used a heavy hand with my serving. Jack doesn’t hate it, but he isn’t fond of it either, so the cilantro on his portion was eliminated (he “made up” for it by adding extra chopped peanuts). ;)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Rice Noodles with Vegetables in Curry Sauce

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- --------------------------------

1/4 cup light coconut milk

1/3 cup skim milk

3/4 teaspoon red curry paste

1 teaspoon sweet curry powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 clove garlic -- crushed

5 ounces rice noodles -- wide linguine-type

2 teaspoons canola oil

18 ounces mixed vegetables -- fresh; any preferred combination; cut into 1/4" matchstick shapes or small pieces

1 small onion -- vertically sliced

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro -- optional

Mix first 7 ingredients, coconut milk through garlic, in a small bowl. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, stir in rice noodles, turn off heat, cover, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes or until the noodles have softened. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside until needed.

While the noodles cook, heat canola oil in a large saute pan or a wok. Stir-fry the vegetables (add the harder veggies such as carrots and asparagus first, stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add the softer vegetables such as snow peas, mushrooms, onion, etc.) until just tender. Stir the coconut extract and the lime juice into the sauce and add the sauce to the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, fold in the rice noodles.

Serve in bowls, sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 504 Calories (kcal); 12g Total Fat; (20% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 93g Carbohydrate; 1mg Cholesterol; 784mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 4 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 4 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 15 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Friday, May 11, 2007

Chinese Chicken with Black Beans (and mayflowers!)

Oh, to have had a couple of boxes of Stouffers (or Lean Cuisine) in the freezer last night! It happens every spring, too much to do, no sunset at 5pm to tell me to “stop and make dinner”, and no energy at the end of the day to prepare anything (much less the creativity to actually think of what to cook).

The weather was very warm (another July-in-May day) and I didn’t look forward to turning on the stove so I decided to use the electric wok which my friend Jan so thoughtfully gave me for my birthday. :) I have to admit, for a piece of cooking equipment that I didn’t think that I needed, this has turned into a wonderful addition to my collection of kitchen paraphernalia!

Although this wasn’t exactly quick and easy (that is what microwaves are for), it probably didn’t take much more than a half-hour to put together. The sauce is thick and spicy with that salty taste of the black beans a very dominant flavor.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chinese Chicken with Black Beans

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- --------------------------------

2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon black bean sauce

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 tablespoon soy sauce, low sodium

2 teaspoons fermented black beans -- optional if unavailable, but really "makes" the dish

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

2 teaspoons canola oil -- divided

10 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- cut into strips

2 large garlic cloves -- minced

6 ounces bell pepper -- colored preferred; cut into 1/4" wide strips

5 ounces zucchini -- cut into 1/4" strips

3 ounces snow peas -- sliced diagonally into strips

2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth through ginger and set aside.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat and drizzle, into the center portion, one teaspoon of the canola oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry for one minute. Sprinkle in the garlic and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes more or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and garlic from the wok to a small bowl and set aside.

Reheat the wok, drizzle in the remaining one teaspoon of oil, and add the peppers. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, add zucchini, cook for a minute, add snow peas and continue to stir for another 2 minutes Add the broth mixture and bring to a boil. Mix the 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water in a small cup and drizzle that into the broth, stirring constantly, until thickened. Turn off heat and tir in chicken garlic mixture for a minute to heat through.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 309 Calories (kcal); 8g Total Fat; (23% calories from fat); 40g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 82mg Cholesterol; 540mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 5 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 14 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

The mayflowers are blooming! I love these little woodland plants, and they’re only around for a few weeks each year. This is a bunch of them, growing in the woods at the back of our property:

And this is a closeup of the flower. The plant is also called a “may apple” because the flower, before blooming, is a small white ball hanging underneath the leaves and resembles an apple (?). I’ve never really understood that, so I just call them mayflowers.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Poached Salmon, Cinnamon Rolls, and Strawberry Mojitos!

Quite the range of recipe categories, don't you think?

During this writing, I’m going to attempt to cover the span of at least three days.

I have found that my original intention of writing a page every two or three days on my blog has been difficult, to say the least, to keep up. Not enough interesting things happen to me on a daily basis to warrant this type of record-keeping. It also takes a long time to, instead of throwing dinner together, actually measure ingredients and write directions (or, if following a recipe, keep track of the inevitable changes). And, of course, now that spring is here I have the garden and the flower beds and home improvement things to take up my time. Some evenings, after dinner is over and the kitchen cleaned, I will turn on the computer fully, intending to write, and find myself staring blankly at the screen. Not much happens during those “blank times”!

This past Wednesday we went to our lake house in West Virginia for a few days. Jack bought a boat lift last fall, upon which to lift his new pontoon boat out and away from less-than-pristine water and damaging wakes. Unloading the lift pieces from the trailer into the garage was a painful experience last fall, and I absolutely did not relish the thought of assembling it in the water this spring. Friends offered to help but, as always seems to happen, none were available on the particular day that Jack just had to assemble this thing. So it was up to the two of us on Thursday. The three main pieces were 10’ x 12’ welded aluminum frames which we couldn’t carry directly to the dock since the path is rocky and narrow, so we had to carry these down the driveway to our neighbor’s boat launch, then along shore (in shallow water, thankfully), back to our dock. The other pieces were smaller, and able to be taken to the dock easily. Jack and I spent Thursday putting together the main frame. Friends came over in early evening for a brainstorming session—we needed to assemble the lift in shallow water but it had to then be moved to a deeper location. How? Sheer brute strength was suggested and agreed upon. 10am on Saturday morning.

This is Jack working on the lift, for those who have no idea what I'm talking about. When the whole thing is put together and the boat is actually on it, I will post a photo.

Meals on this Thursday were very simple ones. I’ve had a lot of comments from readers of this blog about the yummy-sounding dinners and how lucky Jack is. Well, on those particular yummy-sounding-dinner days, yes, he’s a lucky guy. Lunch on this Thursday was tuna sandwiches, dinner was spaghetti. To be honest, that was more than I thought I could do since it felt as though there was a knife stuck in my lower back. A soak in the whirlpool and a good sleep (assisted by a big ol’ ibuprofen) worked wonders and on Friday I was ready, kind of, for the next phase.

Not a bad day, really. Jack did most of the work (why doesn’t he have the rotten back? What is his secret, I wonder?). No help from the manufacturer who supplied some of the worst directions that we’ve ever had to work with. And parts that didn’t quite fit and needed adjustments. But, by the end of the day we completed all we had to for the “moving” the next morning. I wanted to make something for the guys to eat when they came to help, and since I only bring enough food to get us through our stay, I had to go to the local grocery store for eggs and (gasp!!!) butter. Every time I visit this store I am reminded of why I go to the trouble to prepare menus and lists and haul food supplies from home. But there were butter and eggs. :)

I had found a recipe in Canadian Living’s May issue for Poached Salmon with Green Peppercorn Tarragon Sauce and brought down those ingredients. I put together some biscotti and baked these before starting dinner. While I made dinner, then, I also made cinnamon-roll dough. It rose while we ate, then I rolled out the dough, made the rolls, and placed them in the refrigerator where they would stay until morning.

The salmon was excellent. Since it was poached, I didn’t have to watch it too closely and allowed it to cool to room temperature while I kneaded dough. The sauce was light sour cream, light mayo, lemon, tarragon, etc. Very good, although I may decrease the amount of sour cream next time since it lent a too-dominant flavor. Served with oven-roasted Yukon gold potatoes and steamed asparagus with lemon, it was a quick but delicious dinner.

I apologize. I had planned to copy-and-paste the recipe from the Canadian Living website, but the current month's recipes aren't available. I will type and post this soon because it's now late and I am having difficulty concentrating. ;)

I used wild salmon and I have to say that, since I’ve been using this type of salmon a lot lately, I don’t think that I will buy farmed salmon again. Aside from the health benefits of wild vs. farm-raised, the wild salmon tastes better and doesn’t leave as strong, lingering odor after cooking as the farmed seems to do.

On Friday, I heard a local weather forecast for the following day. Partly sunny, chance of rain later in the day. So we woke at 7am on Saturday to the sound of a steady drumming of rain on the roof! But, as one of our helpers said “we’re going to get wet, anyway”, so the Great Boat Lift Relocation was on. I baked the cinnamon rolls, and they were quite good. When Frankie and Don arrived, I had coffee and oj, cinnamon rolls, and toasted almond biscotti (both with and without chopped dark chocolate) ready. The skies, which had actually seemed to brighten for a few minutes, suddenly darkened again and the rain poured. The fittings on the lift frame were greased, the entire thing taken via brute strength to its new location; the cable strung, pulleys and winch made operational, and it was done. More coffee was drunk, and each of our wonderful friends were sent home with extra goodies (like I needed these rolls around to constantly tempt me).

The cinnamon rolls. I tried to lighten them as much as I could, but you really do need butter for the flavor. I added yogurt to the dough to keep it moist and tender, and also some white whole wheat for a bit of nutrition (hey, if I can’t make them healthy, I could at least make them not totally unhealthy!!). They were very good—gooey and cinnamon-y with just enough, but not too much, icing. They are on the small side, about 2-1/2" in diameter, but the perfect size for serving with other treats. I also had enough to take a half-dozen to the neighbors who are so nice and allow us to borrow tools when we find that we don’t have exactly what is needed. Which, it turns out, is often.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Refrigerator Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe By:Vicci
Servings: 24

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
3/4 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk
4 tablespoons butter -- melted
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 large eggs -- room temperature
2 large egg whites -- room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups bread flour -- approximately
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter -- melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon skim milk -- approximately
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Mix yogurt, melted butter, and milk in a small bowl. Heat slowly in a microwave until the mixture is about 110F (if it comes to a boil the yogurt will curdle).

Dissolve yeast in yogurt mixture and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and egg whites then mix in sugar until dissolved. Add the yogurt mixture and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, mix the white whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the bread flour, and salt. Add to the yeast mixture and stir well. Add the additional bread flour, one half cup at a time, until the dough is kneadable. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes until smooth and satiny. Place in an oiled bowl, oil top, and cover with plastic. Allow to rise for 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon is a small bowl Have the butter melted and ready.

Deflate dough and divide in half. Roll each half into 7" x 11" rectangle. Brush each half with the melted butter. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and sprinkle the remaining mixture on both of the dough rectangles, keeping cinnamon-sugar from about 1" of one long side furthest from you

Starting at the long side closest to you, roll each of the dough rectangles into a very tight cylinder. When you get to the opposite side, pinch the dough seam well to seal. Roll each log a bit until it's about 12" long. Keep the seam on the bottom. Use a very sharp knife and slice each log into 12 1" slices.

Line a large (11" x 17") baking sheet with parchment. Arrange the slices on the sheet in four rows of 6 rolls each. Sprinkle the tops with the 2 remaining tablespoons of cinnamon-sugar, spray the top surfaces with cooking spray, and cover with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours (up to 18). Remove from the refrigerator 1- 1 1/2 hours before baking. When ready to bake, the rolls will have risen enough to almost touch each other. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 25-28 minutes.

Remove from pan to cool on a wire rack. Mix vanilla through skim milk in a small bowl. Add the powdered sugar until mixture is "drizzlable". Pour into a small plastic sandwich bag (to keep it steady, place the bag, one bottom corner down, in a coffee mug), twist and tie the top, snip a small piece off the corner of the bag, and drizzle over the warm rolls.

"24 2 1/2 " rolls"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 204 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (17% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 24mg Cholesterol; 47mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates

The biscotti have been posted before and are here.

We did our usual thorough cleaning of the lake house before leaving,
packed up, and drove back to the farm. It hadn’t rained a drop and the plants which I relocated last week all desperately needed to be watered. Figures-- an hour drive south and it was raining buckets!

Now this brings us to Cinco de Mayo dinner!!!

Fortunately for me, the fact that I took such an awful photo of the Beer-Marinated Chicken Tacos is good since I won’t have to take the time to post this recipe now. But I do make these frequently in the summer, so look for the post soon.

And why, you may ask, did I take such an awful photo?

Well, lots of guacamole & chips and


For 4 servings (or 2, depending on how much you like these)

Place 10 grams fresh mint leaves, 1/3 cup sugar, ¾ cup fresh lime juice in a small pitcher. Mash this mixture to release the mint flavor and dissolve the sugar (I use a wooden utensil that was meant to be a meat-tenderizer, but I also use the end of a one-piece rolling pin or the handle of a thick wooden spoon).

Add 6 ounces chopped strawberries and mash until berries are, well, mashed. Stir in ½ cup good-quality white rum, then add ¾ cup club soda.

Serve over ice (yes, all of the mashed stuff goes in the glass, too) with extra mint to garnish. A short straw helps to drink these easily (perhaps too easily!). Also have some spoons on hand to eat the mashed strawberry- rum mixture. Don’t want to waste it!

Remember, don’t drink and photograph!!!

That’s my update for now, let’s see if I can get back here soon. :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Vietnamese Chicken & Vegetable Curry

No, I haven’t disappeared! And thanks to those who have e-mailed me, wondering why I haven’t posted in over a week. It’s a nice feeling to be missed!

We had a stretch of decent weather, so I spent as much time outdoors as I could. There’s a ton of stuff to do and invariably I would come in the house around 6pm, make dinner, have a glass of wine, and collapse, unable to do much more than retrieve my e-mail.

Yes, I still manage to prepare the required three meals a day, but it is during these times I wonder why I don’t just break down and buy some convenience foods. Last night Jack said “I bet you wish we had a box of Stouffer’s in the freezer to throw in the microwave for dinner.” Astute, the man is. ;) But what I came up with was quick, and delicious, and took only about 45 minutes from start-to-finish.

A very generous friend gave me an electric wok for my birthday and I have found it is perfect for using in hot weather rather than turning on the stove.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Vietnamese Chicken and Vegetable Curry

Recipe By :Vicci

Servings: 2

Preparation Time:0:45

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

10 ounces chicken breast, no skin, no bone, R-T-C -- (RTC means Ready To Cook in MasterCook lingo) cut into 1" cubes

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (I use Penzey’s mild)

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 cloves garlic -- crushed

2 ounces onion -- sliced into small wedges

1 teaspoon fresh lemongrass -- white part of bulb only, minced

1/2 cup water

1 large carrot -- halved lengthwise, then cut into 1" pieces

6 ounces red bell pepper -- chopped into 1" pieces

6 ounces asparagus -- cut into 1" pieces

1/3 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup skim milk

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

1 cup hot cooked rice

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

2 lime wedges

In a small bowl combine the curry powder through salt, add the chicken cubes, toss to coat, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1/2 - 2 hours.

Drizzle oil into a heated wok, toss in garlic for a few seconds, then add lemongrass and chicken cubes. Stir fry until chicken has browned a bit. Add the water and bring to a boil; add carrot, cover and turn down heat to low. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir; add the bell pepper, asparagus, coconut milk, skim milk, and fish sauce. Turn up heat until mixture comes to a boil again, turn down heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut extract.

Serve over hot cooked rice. Sprinkle with cilantro, squeeze lime over.

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Per serving: 445 Calories (kcal); 11g Total Fat; (22% calories from fat); 40g Protein; 47g Carbohydrate; 88mg Cholesterol; 921mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 4 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 15 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Other vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, etc. can be subbed or added . Chicken can be omitted if more veggies are used.

I have to note that since I have been exploring the cuisines of Asia, I have found it difficult to keep fresh lemongrass on hand. Our local grocery store carries it only sporadically. I had a plant for 2 years which did well enough, but I didn’t use it as often as I should have and it became overgrown and crowded the pot and died. So I found, in the produce section of the grocery store, lemongrass-in-a-tube. I tried not to look at the ingredients, but did anyway. In addition to lemongrass is canola oil and dextrose, and a few other things. For as infrequently as I need lemongrass, I now forget about the added ingredients and use the tube. I keep it in the freezer, and take it out when I start to make dinner. In about 15 minutes it’s thawed enough to squeeze out a teaspoonful. Jack’s comment was “What next? Already peeled potatoes?” :)

A big plus about working outside has been the sounds emanating from our little pond. I
turn on the waterfall and, accompanying the sound of falling water, our resident toads and frogs trill and croak. Here’s one relatively friendly little one:

Just floating among the rush plant... I would have liked to join him!

Yes, my back feels like I have a knife stuck in it, my hands are dry and need constant applications of lotion, and I am so tired that I’m dragging by the end of the day, but the sounds of nature finally awakening make it all (almost) worthwhile.

I will try to keep up with this blog better than I have lately. I have lots of recipes to post, but need to type them into MasterCook first and hope that I will be able to do so in the next few days.