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Wonders never cease!

Let’s not mince words.  I’m a horrible baker.  It’s never been my forte’ and quite honestly, I didn’t care.  I’m a stove-top girl.   So, while at the Farmer’s Market last weekend, I picked up a very small piece of Focaccia because I just  love this bread.  I was so unimpressed with the bread I brought home….that was supposedly baked by 5th generation bakers.  Hmm, there may have been a “generation gap” when it came to making this particular bread. 

I was on a mission.  I wanted good Focaccia and I figured the only to get it would be to make it.  I sought out a recipe that was:

*simple

*had good reviews

*didn’t require ingredients that I didn’t have

I found it very quickly.  I gave it a try and WOW.  I DID IT!  I BAKED BREAD!  And, it was delicious.

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I thought that if I had this beautifully delicious Focaccia, we should also have spaghetti…..

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My goodness, dinner was spot-on.  I couldn’t have asked for a better first bread-baking experience.  Here’s the recipe, give it a try.  Or, if you think you have a better recipe, pass it on.  I’d love to try it.

Quick & Easy Focaccia

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • kosher salt 
  • olive oil
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the vegetable oil and water.

    When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle.  Using your fingertips, poke lots of dents on the top of the dough.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. 

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    Filed under Beef, Bread

    Farmer’s Market

    It was another bountiful day at the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh.  I don’t know why I get the heeby-geebies when I go there though.  I guess it’s because I know that there are so many people touching the food that I plan on cooking or putting in my mouth.  Yes, of course I wash it first.  But for me, that’s disgusting.  I much prefer to get my produce & fruit from a small, local,  parking lot type farmer’s market like the kind found in Holly Springs.  If you’re in the area, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  Not that people don’t put their hands all over that produce too, it’s just a lot fewer hands!

    Last year we bought a CSA share from a local organic farm.  Wow, was that a gigantic waste of money, time, & energy, so I suppose that scared me away from trying it again (I’d do it again, just not there).  I really like the local farmer’s market experience.  It’s like meeting new friends every week because the people are so friendly.

    Today while there, we sampled some of the freshest fruit of the season.  1st M was even gifted a bag of baby carrots by one of the vendors.  That was kind!  We ended up with a nice variety to last us through the week.  Here’s a peek at some of it…

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    Of all of the things that I walked away with, I’m most excited about the daikon radish.  I can’t wait to try it.  Also, I picked up a Mediterranean Squash that looked interesting.  It’s that light-greenish eggplant looking thing on top of the beets.  While I don’t think it’ll have that drastic of a taste, I’m looking for a squash variety that has the lowest water content.   This is also my first time trying my hand at pattypan squash.  I’m thinking I’m going to stuff it, but I’m not sure with what yet. 

    The day wouldn’t have been complete if we didn’t stroll through the indoor section and let the kids (and me!) get a bag of “you pick it” candy.  I just love all those barrels full of candy, so do the kids!  Of course it ended  at the ice cream parlor.  It always does.  Nothing says “I went to the Farmer’s Market” like a cup of ice cream that melts and gets all over your mouth then the wind whips your hair in your face and then your hair is now glued to your face and you try to wipe it away with your sticky fingers…oops, dropped the ice cream, gimme that candy…. and your mom has to use 50 wipes to clean you up before she lets you in your car seat……ok, you get the picture.  It was a fun afternoon for all!

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    Quick…and I mean, Q.U.I.C.K. dinner!

    Did you see that woman wandering aimlessly around town…that was me.  Whoever claimed that once you have 3 kids, it wouldn’t matter how many you added because you won’t notice the difference….lied.  Exhaustion has set in and I can’t seem to get my day started until the middle of the afternoon.  That is wrecking havoc on our dinners. 

    Here is a great dinner if your available time is in the negative category!  It’s inspired by a recipe by a fellow personal chef, Ina Culler  www.cateredbyina.com .  She makes this as a marinade and let’s the chicken pieces sit in it for 1-6 hours, then bakes at 350.  I can’t tell you how long to bake for because it will be different according to the piece of chicken you use.

    Anyhow, I didn’t do that.  I used her marinade as a sauce because I didn’t have NEAR that much time to marinade so I improvised.  Here’s what I did:

    *Pan saute chicken pieces.  I used legs and boneless, skinless thighs.  (The legs will take longer to cook, so start them first.)

    *While the chicken is sauteing, get your sauce mixed together in a medium sized bowl.

        1/3 jar  hoisin sauce
               2 T. oyster sauce
             1 tsp olive oil
               2 T. sriracha sauce
               2 T. soy sauce
               2 T. honey
                   3 cloves crushed garlic
    Mix all of this together.  Remove the chicken pieces when they’re done and set them aside.  Pour this sauce mixture in the same pan that you sauteed the chicken.  Lower the heat (to medium’ish) and let this simmer for a few minutes.  Then, return the chicken to the pan and let it coat the chicken.  There…done!  And, delicious.  Give it a try.  Have your kids make the sauce while you saute the chicken and there’s one less step you have to do!

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    Filed under Chicken, Dinner

    Sometimes, simple is best!

    Like lots of people these days, we’re trying to only eat beef or pork once a week.  That’s difficult sometimes because there’s certain meals that we love.  Like home-grilled burgers.  Nothing beats a good grilled  hamburger on a cool Spring night, so we decided to go with that.  I choose ground turkey for our meat, I think it was 93/7 but I could be wrong. 

    I asked a couple of my pc friends and most agreed that Muenster was a good cheese choice.  I’m not a huge fan of cheese, so I took their word for it.  I also added in Havarti because it’s 2nd M’s favorite cheese.  Everyone got to build their own burger, I was only going to grill them.

    Call me boring when it comes to my burger, but I don’t like too many “upgrades”.  I built mine on a Kaiser roll with mayo, tomato, lettuce, and muenster.  And, as I have done since I was kid, I ate half then took the meat off the bun and continued eating it.  I could totally be a flexatarian.

    Sink your teeth into THIS..

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    Filed under Dinner, grill, Turkey, weekly menu

    Show me the Dough!

    The kids love making pizzas.  Everyone loves different toppings and some of us are down right particular….dare I say, snobby, when it comes to pizza.

    *as an aside, Rod Stewart is on the finale of Idol right now…..he still has it.  I’m sure he’ll sleep better tonight knowing I just gave him my seal of approval.

    Back to the pizza.  The day did NOT go as planned today and it seemed that no matter what I tried to get done, not only did it not get done…usually the opposite happened.  Finally at 4:45, I scrapped the original dough recipe and found one that was a “quick proof”.  Those of you that know my baking ability know that any proofing is dangerous! 🙂

    By 6:20 everything dough related was done.

    We decided on a Cajun twist to these pizzas.  I sliced up some Savoie’s sausage really thin and diced some tasso.  Threw all of it in a pan to sautee for a bit and get some color.  Removed it from the pan and added diced onion, sliced mushrooms & green onions.  In the meantime, I prepped the rest of the toppings.  And, in an effort to keep it real, I made my own pizza sauce.  It was clean, fresh and very simple. 

    I rolled out the dough pretty thinly and got in on the hot grill and in only 3-4 mins they were done!  That surprised me.  I didn’t think they’d cook quite so fast.  I got them off and everyone topped their own pizzas and we put them back on, but on the top rack just so the cheese would melt.

    Now, I used plain ole shredded mozzarella cheese, no fancy cheese balls tonight.  Here’s the finished product.  It was one of the most delicious, crunchy/chewy, non-traditional pizzas I’ve had….and I loved it.  It was so simple and easily doable for any week-night dinner.  Use your grill!  It keeps your kitchen clean, hehe!

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    Filed under cajun, Dinner, family, Pork

    Dinner on the fly

    I am not a fan of deep freezers.  Upright freezers get my vote every time.  Why?  Because I’m so short, it’s difficult to see things that either fall to the bottom or thing that get put at the bottom.  Buying meat in bulk and repackaging it/labeling it is only a great deal if you remember to use it.

    So, I’m committed to using what’s in my freezer.  I want that sucker cleared out before Fall gets here…..yes, that’s how much stuff I have in that freezer.  The problem is, I keep finding these delicious recipes to try and it all calls for a cut of meat that is NOT in my freezer.  Oh well, self-control, I suppose.

    I found a good-looking package of pork chops that were calling my name, but what to do with them?  It seems that the days aren’t my own any more because by the time I got around to remembering about dinner, it was almost dinner time.  {Please tell me this happens to you too?}

    What I decided to do was pan-sautee them in a bit of olive oil.  After browning them, I took them out of the pan and threw in a good handful of shallots and got them kinda soft.  Next, I deglazed with a cup or so of 2 Buck Chuck Pinot Noir (and R drank the rest with dinner).  Let that reduce for a while until the wine is reduced by 1/2.  It’s perfectly fine at this time, but I added one more thing to it.  You can certainly leave this out, but I added about 1/2 a jar of Tabasco Green Pepper Jelly, and let it melt into the sauce.  Once it’s all combined, you can either add your chops back into the pan, or just spoon the sauce over (or under) the chops.  Your choice.  Neither is better or worse.

    I chose Tabasco Green because…..lol, because it’s what I grabbed first between that or the Red!  No kidding.  If you can find Tabasco brand and you want to use the pepper jelly in the sauce, just make sure you use a spicy pepper jelly and not a sweet one.

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    Here’s a look at the sauce on top of the pork chop.  I wanted to show it this way as well because in the previous picture it seems like there’s not very much sauce.

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    Enjoy, we sure did!

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    Filed under Dinner, Pork