Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Foodie Penpals Reveal

The Lean Green Bean

It is the last day of the month and time for another Foodie Penpal Reveal.  As I have said before, it is just like getting Christmas every month, so this month I had Christmas in July.  My package came from Jennifer at The Caffeinated Rooster.  She sent lots of breakfast and snack goodies.

For breakfast on the go there was this wonderful Cranberry Apple Breakfast Bar.  It was so good.

When I have a little more time, some instant oatmeal packets.  Apples and cinnamon are such  a good combination.  Just like apple pie.

There were two great mixes that I have never tried.  The Sweet Basil Pesto Sauce was wonderful over chicken breasts, and the Creamy Dill Dip went great with both veggies and crackers.

I have thought about purchasing almond butter many times but just never did.  This was very good, and almond butter will go on my shopping list.

I was able to fill my snack quota with these wonderful peanuts that came from a local farmer's market.

Last, there were cookies for Cookie Monster's grandmother.  These were spicy, crispy and delicious.

Thanks, Jennifer, for a great package.  I enjoy it all immensely.

I sent my package to Natalie from Fresh Life Findings.  She shares what I sent to her there.

Foodie Penpals is hosted by Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean.  If you would like to join in this great, fun exchange, you can find all the info on her Foodie Penpal Page.  Come and join us.  Sign up deadline is the 4th of each month.

I am linking to Foodie Penpal Reveal where all the participants share what they received.  It is a fun read.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Steak Strips in Leek and Red Pepper Gravy

When I purchased leeks for this month's  Eating the Alphabet, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them.  After I picked a recipe to post, I had extra leeks.  This is one of the recipes that I made.  Although I rarely cook with leeks, I put red pepper anywhere I can get away with it.  The combination of leek and red peppers sounded good to me.

I had purchased some London Broil (round steak) on sale and wasn’t quite sure I what I wanted to do with it.  None of the recipes I found appealed to me.  Maybe because it has been so hot here the last few days, and I didn’t want to use the oven.  I ended up putting together something that did sound good to me and could be done on the stove top.

I remembered a Season Salt mixture that Tiffany had posted over at Eat at Home.  I adapted it and coated all my steak strips with the seasoning salt.  This gave lots of flavor to the gravy.

I served this over mashed potatoes, but it could be served over noodles or rice.  Hubby approved, and I will be making this again.

Steak Strips in Leek and Red Pepper Gravy
1 leek sliced into 1/4-inch rings
2 T. olive oil, divided
2 t. Kosher salt
3/4 t. coarse ground pepper
1/4 t. paprika (smoked if you have it)
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
3 or 4 turns of Spice Islands Chipotle Chili Seasonings Grinder
1 lb. thick cut round steak cut into 1x2x1/4-inch strips
1 (14 oz.) can beef broth or two cups water and 2 t. Better than Bouillon Beef Flavor Paste
half a medium size red pepper cut into short julienne strips
3 T. flour
1/3 c. water

Place leeks in a bowl of water and swish around to remove any grit and dirt.  Pour water off.  Rinse leeks again and drain.  Place leeks in a clean dish towel and squeeze to dry.  Heat 1 T. olive oil in a medium skillet.  Cook leeks over medium heat until soft.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  Meanwhile combine salt, pepper, paprika, garlic and onion powder and chili seasonings in a medium size bowl.  Mix well.  Add beef strips and mix well.  Make sure that all strips get some of the seasoning salt mix.  Heat second T. of olive oil in the same skillet that you cooked the leeks in.  Add steak strips in a single layer and brown well on both sides.  Remove steak strips to the container with leeks as they brown adding more strips to skillet until all strips are browned.  Return leeks and steak strips to skillet.  Add broth and red pepper.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Mix flour with 1/3 c. water until well blended.  Slowly add to skillet mixture, stirring constantly.  Boil 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is thickened to gravy consistency.  Serve over mashed potatoes, noodles, or rice.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Linking to:  Mop It Up Monday
Must Try Monday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Recipe Sharing Monday
Hunk of Meat Monday
Mangia Monday

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Finds

For the last several weeks, life outside of blogging has gotten in the way when it came to posting Friday Finds.  Hopefully, that has ended, and I will be around regularly again.  You might notice that I have a new tab above entitled "Friday Finds Links".  One thing I did manage to do was to make a page for all the links that I have posted under Friday Finds.  I found that I was spending too much time scrolling back through my blog to find a specific link I had posted for something that I wanted to make.  Now, hopefully, it will be easier for both me and you, dear reader, to get to those recipes.

Note:  I am only up to February 2012, but will get the remaining links up soon.  Take a look.  You might find something you want to make and a new-to-you blog also.

Now on to my Finds for this week.  I am continuing my posts of recipes that I have found at blog parties and the parties where they were found.

Kathiey's World

I found this at It's A Keeper Thursday.  We really like pork loin roast so I buy it a lot and am always looking for new recipes to use it.  This one looks really good, and I will be trying it soon.  I just have to add that this blog has really great photos.  Wish I was that talented.

The Baking Bookworm

I think I would like this different take on the traditional ramen noodle salad.  Probably wouldn't be able to get it by hubby because of the broccoli.  Looks like a great one to take to a potluck or gathering, though.  I found this one at Tastetastic Thursday.

The Kitchen is My Playground

It's summer, it's hot, I got a great buy on chicken breast.  I can't think of anything better to make with some of the chicken than this delicious looking salad.  This was shared at  Full Plate Thursday which is hosted by our own regular contributor to Friday Finds, Miz Helen.

Nutella Coconut Popsicles
Morsels of Life

Again, it's summer, it's hot, Nutella is one of my favorite things, coconut is right up there, too.  I just may have to go purchase Popsicle molds so I can make this one.  Actually I really want one right now.  This comes from a regular contributor to Friday Finds and was shared at Tasty Thursday.

Cooking Up Good Times

Love Bakes Good Cakes

Ashton over at Something Swanky holds two blog parties each Thursday: Sweet Treats, which is for sweets recipes, of course; and Swanky Stuff, which is for everything else.  Here are two recipes that caught my eye this week.  The Puppy Chow would be great for any girl's get-together, young or older.  One can't have too many meatloaf recipes.  This one looks like a great new idea I want to try.

There were so many great recipes at each of these blog parties, it was very difficult to pick just one to share here.  I know that there are many other blog parties happening on Thursdays also.  These are just the ones I visit most often.  Each of the blog party links goes to the party happening on Thursday, July 27, 2012.  To find a newer party, click on the link, then click on the blog's homepage to find the newest party.

As always, the photos were taken by and are the property of the owners of the respective blogs represented.

I am linking up to Friday Favorite Finds at Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  Just click on over to see what other bloggers have found this week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pineapple Chicken

Good Monday and thank you for stopping by to read my blog.  I appreciate those who take the time out of their busy lives to do so.  Have a great week.


Recently I wanted to make a Chinese meal.  I like many Chinese dishes and try to make them at home when I can.  One dish I decided to make was Pineapple Chicken.  I found a recipe for Chinese Pineapple Chicken at Soupbelly.com.  This is a new- to-me blog with great recipes and wonderful step-by-step photos.  If you want to see great pictures of how this is made just pop on over to her blog.

I did not have the time to let the chicken marinate a whole two hours, and it was fine, but it probably would have been a bit better with a longer marinating time.

I really like her method for marinating the chicken and making the marinade into a batter for the chicken pieces.  The batter clung to the chicken very well.  There is no deep frying involved so that was a plus for me.  I used about 1/4-inch of oil in a large skillet.  I used two set of tongs to fry the chicken, one to remove the chicken pieces from the batter and put them in the hot oil, the other to turn the chicken pieces and remove them as they were done.  This worked very well.  Be sure that the chicken pieces do not touch each other while they are frying, they will stick together.

I, of course, had to change a few things so this is my adaptation of Soupbelly’s recipe.


Pineapple Chicken
adapted from Soupbelly.com

1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 10 chicken tenders)
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. sesame oil
1 egg
1/4 t. pepper
3 T. flour
3 T. cornstarch
oil for frying
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple tidbits
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped red pepper
1/4 c. chopped green onion
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 T.  soy sauce
1 T. water
1 T. cornstarch

Cut chicken into about 1 1/2-inch chunks.  Add soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and the egg.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.  Add flour and cornstarch to the chicken to create a thick batter.  Pour enough oil in a large skillet to make a depth of about 1/4 inch.  Heat over medium-high heat.  Add chicken pieces to hot oil using tongs and not letting them touch each other.  Cook till underside is brown, turn and cook till the second side is brown.  Remove chicken pieces to a paper towel-lined plate.  Repeat until chicken pieces are done.  Pour off any remaining oil in the skillet and wipe clean with paper towels.  Drain pineapple into a glass measuring cup.  If there is not 1 cup of  juice, add enough water to make 1 c.  Pour juice into skillet.  Add ginger, garlic  and red pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Add green onion, brown sugar and soy sauce.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  In a small bowl combine water and cornstarch and mix well.  Stir into sauce and stir until thickened.  Add chicken pieces back to skillet and mix until thoroughly coated and reheated, stirring often.  Serve over steamed rice if desired.  Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Improve Cooking Challenge-Corn on the Cob in Milk and Herb Butter Corn

The ingredients for this month’s Improve Cooking Challenge hosted by Brenda over at Frugal Antics of a Harried  Homemaker are corn and butter.  This challenge is great fun.  You can find information on joining the group here at Brenda's Improv Page.

I didn’t stray too far afield with this one.  We love corn on the cob and have it often during the summer.  Hubby would willing eat a meal of corn on the cob, deep-fried yellow squash, fresh local tomatoes and nothing else every day when it is all in season.  Unfortunately hubby cannot eat the corn on the cob so he has to cut it off.  I always cook enough corn on the cob to have leftovers. I cut the corn off the cob and add a garlic/herb butter blend to reheat the leftover corn. I make the herb butter ahead and add just a tablespoon or so when the corn is reheated it just has a nice sheen.

Today I am going to share a method that I ran across to cook corn on the cob that I really like.  I found it over at Siggy Spice.  The produces corn that is always sweet and juicy.  Siggy didn’t have a name for her method so I am calling it Corn on the Cob in Milk.  Thanks, Siggy, for a great idea.


Corn on the Cob in Milk
from Siggy Spice
6 to 8 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
1 c. milk (whole milk preferred)
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter (I slice it into several pieces)

Fill a  large pot with enough water to cover the corn.  Do not salt the water.  Add the milk, sugar and butter.  Bring to boil (this can take a little while depending upon the amount of water used).  Add the ears of corn.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until just tender.  Remove immediately and serve with butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Frugal tip:  I freeze the water/milk/butter mixture in 1 and 2 cup portions and use it instead of any water called for when I make potato or corn chowder.


Garlic Herb Butter
1/2 c. butter
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. paprika
1/8 t. pepper
1/4 t. marjoram leaves
1/4 t. thyme leaves

Melt butter.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  If made ahead, store in refrigerator and remelt before using.  Makes 1/2 c.

Caramelized Herb Butter Corn
Cut corn from leftover corn on the cob.  (I usually have about 3 ears.)  Place corn in a skillet.  Remelt Garlic Herb Butter and add just enough (1 to 2 tablespoons) to give the corn a nice sheen.  Heat and stir until corn is hot and starts to caramelize.  Servings depend on the amount of leftover corn.

Check out the links below to see what other Improv bloggers have done with corn and butter.

Monday, July 16, 2012

SRC Reveal Day-Peanut Butter Banana Cream Squares

 I was so excited recently when, after waiting a nearly a year, I got an email asking if I still wanted to join The Secret Recipe Club.  Boy, did I!  So I signed up and received my very first assignment.  The blog I was assigned is Eat Laugh Love.

This is a fun blog with many interesting recipes.  Although some recipes are more sophisticated than what I usually eat, I found many recipes that I want to try.  Among them are Baked Egg Rolls, Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan and Bacon, Company’s Coming Apple Cake, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondes.

You will notice that the last two recipes listed are for sweets so it is no surprise that the recipe I chose to make is for a dessert.  When I saw the recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie I knew that is what I would be making.

This recipe had a number of things going for it.  I love peanut butter, bananas, cream cheese and chocolate so what could be better than a combination of all of these?  I'm also inherently lazy so love quick, easy and make ahead recipes.  Lastly, we are having a heat wave which makes a frozen dessert seem even better.

Instead of making a pie, I chose to put this in an 8-inch baking pan.  To be sure there was enough crust to cover the bottom of the pan, I increased the crust ingredients by half.  The recipe posted here reflects that change.

I wanted lots of banana so cut my slices about 1/2 inch thick.  I still took only two bananas of the size that I had.

I made my homemade Chocolate Sauce because I think that it tastes much better, but purchased can be used.

This was very good, and we will be having it often at our house.

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Squares
Adapted from Eat Laugh Love
1 1/2 c. crushed vanilla wafer cookies (about 40 small ones)
6 T. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. (4 oz.) cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 c. less fat)
1/2 c. chunky peanut butter
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed (I used light)
2 bananas, sliced
Chocolate sauce, homemade or purchased

In a bowl mix together cookie crumbs and brown sugar.  Add brown sugar and mix until all the crumbs are coated.  Pour into an 8-inch baking pan which has been very well sprayed with nonstick spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for  10 minutes.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely. When crust has cooled, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and peanut butter together until smooth.  Add the vanilla and mix well.  Fold in thawed whipped topping until everything is well combined.  Cover the cooled crust with the banana slices.  Spoon the peanut butter mixture over the bananas.  Smooth the top and drizzle with the chocolate sauce.  Cover and freeze at least 8 hours.  Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.  Makes 9 servings.

Linking to Food on Fridays

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Eating the Alphabet-Curried Leak and Veggie Spread

Here it is time for another Eating the Alphabet post.  This month we are doing K or L.  I chose L and decided to make something with leeks.

I have not used leeks often, but after searching for recipes using leeks and developing a couple myself, I will use them more.  I sort of went on a “leek kick” and will be posting a couple more recipes using leeks soon.

For today’s post, I chose Curried Leak and Veggie Spread.  I saw a recipe over at allrecipes for a Leek Dip.  It sounded good, but by the time I got done, what I made did not resemble that original recipe at all.

To prepare the leek, slice it into thin slices and chop fine.  Put into a bowl of water and swish around to remove any grit or dirt.  Remove from the water and rinse in a colander.  Turn into a clean towel and squeeze to remove excess water.

If you don't like curry powder or fennel seeds, use another herb or just leave them out.  I just happen to like curry, but this is perfectly good without it.

To serve this, I like to split pita bread, cut it into triangles, brush it with olive oil, and toast them in a pan on the stove or in the oven.  This is also good with any kind of cracker or melba toast.

Note:  The veggies in this will begin to release their water so this is best eaten in a day or three.  After that, you are apt to have a dip.  Still good, but no longer spreadable.

Curried Leek and Veggie Spread
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat), softened
1 c. creamy salad dressing like Miracle Whip (low fat is OK)
1/2 c. sour cream, I use low fat
1 leek, white and light green park, finely chopped
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1/2 c. finely chopped red pepper
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped carrot
! T. lemon juice
1/2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. fennel seed
salt and pepper to taste, if desired
6 strips bacon fried crisp and crumbled or 1/4 c. ready-cooked real bacon bits

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and mix very well.  Place in a covered container and place in refrigerator.  Chill at least 2 to 3 hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Makes about 2 cups.  Serve with pita bread triangles, crackers or melba toast.

For Eating the Alphabet each month we post a recipe starting with a specific letter of the alphabet.  Next month the letters will be M, N, and/or O.  I invite you to join in the fun.  It is hosted by Brenda from Meal Planning Magic.  Just hop on over and sign up.

Check out the links below to see what the other "Eating the Alphabet" bloggers have posted this month.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Recipe Index

Welcome  and thanks to all who take the time out of their busy lives to read this blog.  I have been remiss the last week or so in saying that.  I hope what you find here is useful.

I really am still alive and kicking.  Just have a lot of irons in the fire.  One of them, being trying to get an recipe index done for this blog.  I am happy to say that it is up and running, at least part of it.  I have  finished last year so thought that I would go ahead and publish what I have so far.  Hopefully it will help everyone (including me) find the recipes I have posted.  I will try to bring it completely up to date soon.

I do have a small note of advice for new food bloggers.  Start a recipe index page early.  It is a real job to take on when you have over 300 posts.  Maybe you can benefit from my experience.  Have a great weekend.

Monday, July 9, 2012

5-Spice Barbecued Mini Meat Loaves

This is a favorite recipe that I have been eating since I was a child.  My mother found it in a gas company cook booklet.  It is also my oldest daughter’s favorite meat loaf.

The original recipe was called Lemon Barbecued Meat Loaves and the sauce used allspice and cloves.  I changed it over the years and now use Chinese 5-spice as I like the slightly licorice flavor that it provides.  If you don’t like or can’t find Chinese 5-spice, I have given the amount of allspice and cloves to use.

I like to use a whole grain bread.  The recipe says stale bread.  Any bread over a day or two old is fine.  The crusts may be removed from the bread slices before dicing if desired.

You can make the meatloaves and sauce ahead, cover and refrigerate them and bake them at dinnertime.  Add about 10-15 minutes to the cooking time.

The recipe suggests placing lemon slices on top of the meatloaves.  It makes a nice garnish, but I don’t usually bother.

The sauce is good spooned over mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.


5-Spice Barbecued Mini Meat Loaves
1 1/2  lbs  lean ground beef
4 slices stale bread, diced
1/4  c. lemon juice
1/4  c. minced onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2  t.  seasoned salt
1 c. ketchup
2/3 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
2 t. dry mustard
1/2 to 1 t. Chinese 5-spice powder or 1/4 to 1/2 t. each allspice and ground cloves
6 thin lemon slices, for garnish, if desired.

Preheat oven to 350°F.    In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, bread, lemon juice, onion, egg and salt.    Mix well and shape into 6 individual loaves; place in foil-lined 9x13" baking pan.  Bake 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a  small bowl, combine remaining ingredients except lemon slices and mix until smooth.  Pour mixture over loaves and top each with a lemon slice; bake 25 minutes longer, basting occasionally with sauce from pan.  Serve sauce over loaves.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Crazy Cooking Challenge-Japanese Fried Chicken


When I saw that Fried Chicken was the subject for this month’s Crazy Cooking Challenge, I knew that I wanted to do a different kind of recipe and that I wanted to use chicken thighs.  We eat thighs a lot at our house, both because we like them and they make an inexpensive main dish.

After a bit of searching, I found Chicken Karaage-Japanese Fried Chicken over at Just Hungry.  I knew that I had found what I wanted to make.

I wasn’t sure about the need to deep fry this.  Hubby is the deep fryer in this family and does it in a commercial deep fryer that he has in his shop.  I don’t have a small electric deep fryer so knew I would have to do this the old-fashioned way in a saucepan on the stove.  The recipe sounded so good, however, that I decided to plunge ahead.

I used 6 chicken thighs and boned them myself.  Boneless thighs are available if one wishes to skip this step.  I chose to leave the skin as Makiko suggested.  Because I had more chicken than used in the original recipe, I doubled the marinade ingredients which seemed to make enough.  I did not have any sake so used mirin.  Makiko lists sherry as the first preferred substitute for sake so I could have used that.

Potato starch is the preferred coating for Karaage although cornstarch can be used.  I had potato starch on hand so did use that.  It gave the chicken a crisp, shattery coating like a potato chip.  The cornstarch is supposed to give a heavier coating more like a tortilla chip.  I needed to use about 1 1/2 cups of potato starch for the amount of chicken pieces that I had.

I got my oil too hot initially and the first chicken pieces turned out a bit black.  They tasted OK, just were not very pretty.  The ones in the photo are better, but my picture is not as nice as the one on Makiko’s original post.  The potato starch also seemed to leave some residue which shows in the photo also.  The chicken was done so I am not sure why that happened.  It did not affect the flavor of the chicken.

Though not traditional, I chose to make a Sweet and Sour Sauce to serve with the chicken.  We thought it was all very good.  I will definitely make this dish again, but I will have hubby do the deep frying.


Chicken Karaage
adapted from Just Hungry

6 chicken thighs, boned and cut into large bite-size pieces
1 piece fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb), grated
6 T. soy sauce (I use low sodium)
2 T. sake, sherry, or mirin
about 1 1/2 c. potato starch or cornstarch

Combine ginger, soy sauce, and sake, sherry, or mirin.  Pour over chicken pieces and mix well.  Let marinate for about 30 minutes.  Heat oil in a pan or deep fryer to abut 355 degrees.  Drain chicken pieces and roll in potato starch.  Add a few pieces at a time to the hot oil and fry until a deep golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.  Drain on a wire rack with paper towels placed underneath.  Makes about 4 servings.  Serve with Sweet and Sour Sauce, if desired.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
3/4 c. pineapple juice (this is a 6 oz. can)
3/4 c. vinegar (I use rice vinegar)
3/4 c. ketchup
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
3 T. cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and mix well.  Place over medium heat and stir until thick and clear.  Store in the refrigerator.  This will keep for awhile.  Makes abut 2 c.


Each month for the Crazy Cooking Challenge our hostess, Tina, assigns a specific dish to make.  Until this month, we were to obtain the recipe from another blog.  Now we can obtain the recipe from anywhere, even dream one up.  This is such a fun challenge to do.  I invite you to join us next month and share a recipe for cheesecake.  Just click on over to Tina's Crazy Cooking Challenge page to sign up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July

Just popping in to wish everyone a happy Independence Day.  Hope that it is filled with family, food, and fun.

Free clip art image courtesy of http://www.cksinfo.com/americana/patriotic/page5.html.

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