Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Working in an environment with so many Japanese, you smell, see and hear about how good this is or how good this other recipe is.  I foresee many Japanese recipes coming over the next few months.  The challenge is to keep the ingredients to items you can buy at Kroger or your local grocery store, but I'm always up for a challenge!

{a co-worker said this is like the Hamburger Helper for Japanese since any vegetables or meat can be used; typically it is made with beef}

one year ago:  spicy sesame honey chicken

from Tori Avey

makes 4 servings

1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin or sake (use sake for a more savory broth)
4 ounces udon noodles
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pound well-marbled tender beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large yellow onion, halved and cut into thin crescents
1 pint mushrooms, sliced
2 cups mixed vegetables
5 green onions, white and green parts, cut into 2-inch diagonal lengths
  1. To make the sauce, mix together the broth, soy sauce, and mirin/sake in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Set aside.
  2. Boil water and cook noodles until done.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over high heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Add beef and sear until browned on one side.
  4. Add the onion, mushrooms, and vegetables. Stir and cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add the green onions and stir until they turn bright green, about 30 seconds. 
  6. Add the sauce and noodles. 
  7. Mix well and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. 
  8. Cook until all the ingredients are heated through and tender. 
  9. Serve hot. 
Unlike other Asian cuisines, Japanese cuisine is based on noodles (a sign of long life) which is a bit dangerous for me since I love LOVE noodles.  Luckily, they make their noodles thin, long, and with beans, potatoes, or buckwheat.  In other words, much healthier than straight flour. 

Have you ever had Japanese food?  Did you like it? 

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Monday, March 30, 2015

black rice pudding

A friend of mine asked for a rice pudding recipe, and I immediately thought of this recipe.  Not only is it easy to make, healthy and delicious, but using black rice and coconut milk gives it that step up from the ordinary and a flair of international cuisine (fitting all of my criteria).  I made this in culinary school, and it has been a favorite of mine ever since.

{looks weird, but tastes AMAZING!}

black rice pudding

makes 8 servings

2 cups black rice (also called forbidden or purple rice and can be found at health food or Asian stores)
4 cups coconut milk (might need more or water can be used)
1/4 cup brown sugar (more if you want it sweeter)
Toasted coconut flakes (optional)
  1. Cook rice and coconut milk until rice is mushy, about 1 hour.
  2. Stir in sugar until melted.  If you want it sweeter, add more.
  3. Serve warm with toasted coconut flakes (highly recommended as the crunch is a good foil to the tender rice)
I took this to work, and everyone loved it (only one person said it was "okay", but he was reluctant to try it--glad he did though!) especially the Japanese that I work with.  Many asked for seconds, but I didn't have any.  Then they asked for the recipe.  That always make me feel good :o)

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

spicy peanut chicken

The Hubby LOVES peanuts and peanut butter (as in we go through a jar of peanut butter a week).  When we first moved in together, he thought that having peanut butter in anything savory was just bizarre.  Peanuts were for eating alone, and peanut butter was best in a sandwich or fudge.

How times have changed because he loved this dish so much, he didn't leave any for me to take for lunch the next day (I adored this too by the way).  I am still amazed by the change in his tastes over the last few years, and I am so proud of him!

spicy peanut chicken
 {add more chili flakes for more spice!}

spicy peanut chicken
adapted from www.bhg.com

makes 6 servings

1 large onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups sliced carrot (3 medium)
2 peppers, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 garlic, minced
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup frozen peas
Hot cooked rice
Chopped peanuts and cilantro (optional for garnish)
  1. Mix everything but the peas, rice, peanuts, and cilantro together in a crock-pot.
  2.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is cooked through.
  3. Add peas about 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Serve over rice and topped with peanuts and/or cilantro.
Have you tried peanuts in a savory dish like the one above?  Did you like it?  If you did, you should check out the another recipe with peanut-lime sauce!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

seared pork chops with spiced tomato sauce

I'm a sucker for an easy weeknight meal, and many other things in life, but definitely an easy weeknight meal!  (Kinda a wordless Wednesday--sorry guys!)

seared pork chops with spiced tomato sauce
 {seared pork chops with spiced tomato sauce}

seared pork chops with spiced tomato sauce
 {with Parmesan cheese}

seared pork chops with spiced tomato sauce
from myrecipes.com

makes 4 servings

4 ounces uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
1 cup vertically sliced sweet onion
1 cup sliced fennel bulb
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoons chopped dried oregano
2-14 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
  2. While pasta cooks, heat a large stainless steel skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. 
  3. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. 
  4. Add pork to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pork from pan. 
  5. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and fennel; saute 3 minutes or just until vegetables begin to brown. 
  6. Add curry powder and coriander; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 
  7. Add wine; cook 30 seconds. 
  8. Stir in oregano and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. 
  9. Cook 5 minutes or until liquid is slightly reduced. Return pork to pan; nestle in tomato sauce. 
  10. Cook 10 minutes or until done. 
  11. Remove as much sauce as you can, and toss with pasta. 
  12. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.
The Hubby and I literally fought over these leftovers.  We each took one lunch, but it was a fight to make sure we each had the same amount of sauce and pasta. Do you have any favorite quick weeknight meals?

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Monday, March 23, 2015

chicken tetrazzini

I won't lie--there are some dishes that intimidate me.  Tetrazzini was one of them along with anything "surprise".  I grew up with the dreaded meal in school, and it was never anyone's favorite.  I finally decided to give it a try myself since I found this easy recipe that sounded delicious.  I must say, it didn't disappoint!  I even shared with a self-proclaimed tetrazzini enthusiast at work, and she loved it too!

chicken tetrazzini
 {a beautiful casserole if I may say so!}

chicken tetrazzini
 {a close up}

chicken tetrazzini
from myrecipes.com

makes 8 servings

10 ounce uncooked linguine
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted chicken stock 
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (8-ounce) packages sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion 
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pound shredded cooked chicken breast
1 cup frozen green peas
Cooking spray 
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain but keep pot for later.
  3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. 
  4. Gradually add stock and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt, and pepper.
  5. Reheat pasta pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, and thyme; saute until cooked through.  Add wine; cook 1 minute. 
  6. Combine milk mixture, mushroom mixture, pasta, chicken, and peas; toss to combine. 
  7. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  8. Combine breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over pasta. 
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. 
  10. Top with parsley.
  11. Serve and enjoy! 
This casserole is worth the two dirty pans.  Plus, I made this on a Sunday for dinner on Monday, and it was perfection.  The Hubby loved it and asked me to make it again!

How do you feel about tetrazzini?  Will you give it another try if you haven't had it in a while?

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Friday, March 20, 2015

food for thought

You might or might not have noticed, but this week, I took a spontaneous break from blogging.  Last Sunday, I was really just not feeling it.  I might be able to come up with several reasons why I felt like that, but it wasn't important for me to explore it.  The bottom line is that I couldn't bring myself to work on the blog.  This is definitely unusual for me; so I embraced it, listened to it, and spent the day lounging/reading. 

Monday came around, and I kicked myself for not working.  However, I acknowledged that what I needed was rest to recharge so the guilt melted away.  I've been working on some new recipes, and I can't wait to share them with you!

Always remember, my friends, your happiness is a necessity not just a priority so listen to yourself.  There is a reason that you don't feel like doing something sometimes (not that perpetual laziness is a good thing!) so embrace it, and good things will come!

Have a beautiful weekend!

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Friday, March 13, 2015

food for thought

A silly proverb, but completely true.  The Hubby LOVES potatoes, and so I know he loves me when he shares his French fries/mashed potatoes/hash browns with me; that's true love right there!

Have a safe and fun weekend my friends!

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

pleasing your palate | St. Patrick's Day

Besides the other recipes I shared this week, the recipes below would also work with any St. Patrick's Day celebration.  Irish fare is pretty basic: meat, potatoes, root vegetables, and bread.  Remember--next year, I am tackling soda bread!

Annie's Apple Cake

Beef and Cabbage

Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms

Garlic Pepper Roast with Gravy

Irish Lamb Stew

No-Knead Bread

Roasted Parsnips with Onions

Smashed Potatoes

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Vegetable Beef Stew
Vegetable Beef Stew

 {blessing for happiness}

Sláinte! (cheers/good health)

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guinness chocolate cake

I have a hard time finding a chocolate cake that is easy, delicious, and not rich.  This Guinness chocolate cake was out of this world!  So delicious and moist but not rich or heavy.  You can't even taste the Guinness, but I am 110% certain that it wouldn't be the same without it.

Guinness chocolate cake
{Guinness chocolate cake top view}

Guinness chocolate cake
{doesn't that look so delicious?  Go make one and see for yourself!}

Guinness chocolate cake
from www.food.com

makes 1 loaf cake

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 oz Guinness stout
2/3 cup cocoa powder
4 oz dark chocolate (77%)
2 tablespoons Guinness stout
2 tablespoons butter
1/3-1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 oz walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease 1 loaf pan.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together.
  4. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until combined.
  5. Mix cocoa powder and Guinness together until combined.  **Cocoa powder it hard to mix into any liquid, let alone one that is carbonated.  Take your time; I had to let it set and settle a couple of times before I got everything mixed in**
  6. Once butter and sugar are creamed, add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
  7. Add flour mixture and Guinness mixture alternatively, beginning and ending with flour (should be flour, Guinness, flour, Guinness, flour).  ONLY mix until just incorporated.
  8. Pour batter in loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  9. Cool cake.
  10. To make the icing, mix together dark chocolate, Guinness, butter, and powdered sugar; place in microwave for 30 seconds stirring after each round until chocolate and butter are melted.
  11. Pour icing over cooled cake; top with walnuts.
  12. Serve.

 {my secret hope/belief that there really is magic in this world}

Sláinte! (cheers/good health)

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dublin coddle

Another Irish recipe as an option for your St. Patrick's Day celebration is this Dublin coddle. According to the recipe notes:
"This traditional supper dish of sausages, bacon, onions and potatoes dates back at least as far as the early eighteenth century. It seems to be more of a city dish than a rural one; it was a favorite of Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels and dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.... The name of the dish is probably descended from the older word caudle, derived from a French word meaning "to boil gently, parboil, or stew"...Serve with Guinness and Irish soda bread. Although this is an easy to prepare one pot meal and its simplicity belies its amazing taste and flavor - comfort food at its best!"
Comfort food at its best is the perfect description for this meal; The Hubby and I have a new favorite obsession!  I've made this before according to the recipe for a crock-pot, and I wasn't impressed.  I decided to give it another try on the stove, and I am so glad that I did!  I bit into it and about melted from joy.  It was what I had been craving without know it.  I mean, can you really go wrong with potatoes, onions, bacon and sausage! (Side note:  I didn't get around to making soda bread this year, but it's already on the list for next year!)

  {Dublin coddle}

Dublin coddle
{use a good quality bacon and sausage product; use your favorite too while you're at it.  I bought my meat from a KY Proud farmer}

one year ago:  roasted sweet potato salad

Dublin coddle
adapted from www.food.com

makes 6 servings

1 pound bacon (local favorite), diced
1 pound sausage links (local favorite), diced
2 onions, sliced
2 pounds potatoes (local), diced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Heat a pot up to medium.
  2.  Add bacon and cook until browned.
  3. Add sausage links and onions to bacon; cook until browned.
  4. Add potatoes and broth.
  5. Boil potatoes until tender about 40 minutes.
  6. Season with pepper (you shouldn't need salt).
  7. Serve topped with parsley, bread, and Guinness (please drink responsibly!).
{a beloved and true proverb}

Sláinte! (cheers/good health)

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Irish whisky roasted salmon

Next week is St. Patrick's Day, and I know everyone becomes Irish for that day just to celebrate.  I've ALWAYS been infatuated with Ireland: the rain, the green rolling hills, the stonework, the food, the lightheartedness, the myths, the faeries, all of it.  The Hubby and I will make it there someday; I might never come back to America!

So anyway, I went all out for St. Patrick's Day this year.  I not only made some delicious Irish recipes that I will be sharing this week, but I also gathered my favorite Irish sayings and proverbs which I will be sharing too!

First up is this delicious salmon recipe.  I even researched to see if Ireland has salmon (which they do in case you were wondering).  I loved this salmon recipe because it was easy, and the leftovers work great on salads and such.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved that the whisky toned down the strong taste of fish.  I will definitely be making this again!

Irish whisky roasted salmon
 {Irish whisky roasted salmon}

Irish whisky roasted salmon
{I served mine with peas for a light dinner}

one year ago:  lima beans with garlic butter sauce

Irish whisky roasted salmon
from www.food.com

makes 4 servings

4-6 ounce salmon fillets
2 tablespoons honey
1⁄4 cup cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup Irish whiskey (1 small bottle of Jameson is perfect!)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place salmon in a container that is suitable for marinating.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients until combined.
  3. Pour over salmon and marinate for 4 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 450.
  5. Remove salmon from marinate and place in a clean baking dish.
  6. Roast for 10-12 minutes or until light pink and flaky.
  7. Enjoy! 
{one of my favorite Irish blessings}

Sláinte! (cheers/good health)
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Friday, March 6, 2015

food for thought

I've had a hard week this week, but I am trying to be open to love and everything that happens to me each day because I learn something.  I learn that I don't like it; that I am stronger than I think I am; that I love something; that I need to change something, etc.

Have a beautiful weekend my friends!

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

about the town | Ramsey's Diners

**I know that I said that I don't go out to eat often, but I have eaten at so many fantastic local places (and been back more than once!) that I felt I needed to share with my fellow Lexingtonians!  So any time I go out to eat, and the food/service is great, I'll review it on here.  I go back more than once, you know, for research purposes.  I am not paid for this, and all opinions are my own!**

To me, Ramsey's diners are a cross between Cracker Barrel and a hometown diner.  I love to eat here when I am feeling in a vegetable mood because their dinner platters are well priced at $15 for an entree and three sides, and they are always delicious!  You can also get just vegetables for $10.  I can't pick between the pot roast, meatloaf, buffalo fried chicken, and blackened fried catfish.  Don't even ask about my favorite vegetables because they are all so good!

Ramsey's has been around Lexington for about 25 years, and the best part?  They support local farmers in the summer by buying produce and using it at their multiple locations.  To check out their menus, head to their website.  Below are some pictures from my recent visit!

 {Location in Andover shopping strip}

 {Cucumber Basil Lemonade (alcoholic), dinner of fried buffalo chicken and veggies, and logo}

What are your hometown favorites Lexington?

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

how-to | make quick oats

Have you ever been in the midst of making a recipe when you realize that you have no quick-cooking oats, only old-fashioned rolled oats?  Yeah me too!  I panicked, and then I thought, there must be a solution!  So I looked online, and who would have guessed?  You can make quick-cooking oats out of the old-fashioned rolled oats, and it's so easy!

how-to | make quick oats
 {Step 1:  Grab a box of old-fashioned oats}

how-to | make quick oats
 {Step 2:  Place oats in a food processor}

how-to | make quick oats
 {Step 3:  Pulse until oats are cut into chunks.  Don't go too far or you'll have oat flour!}

How easy is that?  The internet saved my behind!  Has it ever saved yours in a situation like this?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

tilapia veracruz

Although The Hubby doesn't really love fish, he will tolerate lean, white fish (not too fishy like salmon or tuna).  He absolutely LOVED this spicy Spanish dish.  This is so easy, it can be done in about 30 minutes for a quick weeknight meal.

tilapia veracruz
 {tilapia veracruz}

tilapia veracruz
{close up}

tilapia veracruz
adapted from www.myrecipes.com

makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1 pepper, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2-14 oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup green olives, halved (about 20)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (more if you really like it spicy) 
4-4-oz tilapia fillets (or any other white fish will do)
  1. Heat oil in a large pan on medium-high.
  2. Once hot, add onions and peppers.  Sear until browned on one side.
  3. Add garlic, tomatoes, capers, olives, oregano, and chili flakes.  Stir until combined.
  4. Add fish on top and turn down heat to medium.
  5. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until fish is done.
  6. Serve over rice.  
Do you like to eat fish?  Which do you prefer: fatty fish like salmon or lean fish like tilapia?
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Monday, March 2, 2015

monthly munchies | March

Yay!  It's the start of another month!  Can you believe that we are already 1/6 through this year?  How crazy is that?!

 {Because sometimes a snack does mean eating chocolate cake!}

Not really much going on in March, but there are a few things:
  • If you haven't yet, sign up for the Lexington Farmer's Market weekly newsletter to get recipes from me right to your inbox along with market news (closures, special announcements, availability, etc).  You can go here to sign up.
  • March has St Patrick's Day, and I have been making some Irish recipes that I think you'll love including an easy fish recipe and delicious chocolate cake!
  • The rest of the month will have the same easy, healthy recipes!

Have a safe and wonderful March my friends!  Hopefully, we will start to see some normal temperatures around these parts because this winter has been a bit difficult with all the gray....  I have seen spring flowers poking their heads out!

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