Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Revelation About Me

Today I realized that I will buy almost anything labeled Buffalo flavored or peppercorn ranch. Sometimes, even Cajun, even though I know what that really means.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Deep Fried Saturday

We had been waiting. Waiting for a nice day. Waiting for the bitter cold of winter to fade away. Waiting, so we could . . . fry turkeys. Yes, that's what I said. Fry turkeys. My family has been frying turkeys for holidays since I was a kid - but that was in New Orleans, where it is easy to stand outside all day in the middle of December. However, here in Chicago, our (ok, my) outside winter time is limited.

We did fry one turkey this year for Thanksgiving, but peanut oil is so expensive to use for just one turkey. My dad always fried turkeys with friends, one after the other, so you could share the oil and only heat up one pot. So some friends and I decided to wait until the weather got nicer and spend the day frying turkeys. We cooked up four 10 lb. turkeys. Everyone took theirs home to cut up and eat and freeze. We shared ours with our guests, and boy, was it juicy and delicious. The skin was flavorful and crispy, if you like that sort of thing.

And while we had a big pot of boiling oil, we decided to throw a few other things in the fryer - oreos, salami, mango fritters, tortellini and bananas. Here are the photos and the info:

--12-24 hours before frying, inject turkey with marinade. You can find injectable marinade along with the other marinades in your supermarket. (We used Tony Chachere's Creole Butter). Sprinkle your favorite seasoning or more Creole Butter on the outside of the turkey.
--With oil at 350 degrees fry turkey for approx 3 min per pound, plus three or four more minutes.

--Freeze oreos and bananas for at least two hours.
--Mix up your favorite pancake batter.
--Dip oreos and bananas in batter, place in hot oil (350 degrees) for approx one minute on each side.
--Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

1 1/4 cup chopped mango (or peaches)
1 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 Tbls. vegetable oil

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add egg, milk and oil. Stir until blended. Fold in mangoes. Our fritters were large (about 1/2 cup of batter) and required about 10 minutes of cooking time in 350 degree oil. Smaller fritters will cook faster. Drain on a paper towel and top with powdered sugar.

--No prep. Just drop in oil.

--We used fresh pasta, not dried. But I suppose if you bought dried, you could boil it and then fry it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Barilla Piccolini Smiles Photo Contest

Have little ones who love pasta? Here's a great chance to show off! Barilla Piccolini pasta is sponsoring a photo contest and your child could win a $25,000 scholarship! Think of all the cute possibilities! Even if you don't win, your picture could be featured on the Barilla web site.

Click here for all the details and be sure to read the fine print - which includes a June 28 deadline and says no professional photographers.

---I'm just wrapping up two full full days at the National Restaurant Association show. Whew! I'm exhausted from all the walking and stuffed from all the sampling! I'm working on a couple of stories to post and a bunch of photos. Check in again soon!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tilapia Recipe Contest.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that, thanks to Foodbuzz, I'll be attending the National Restaurant Association show next week as a press correspondent. I can't wait to see everything. I've been getting all kinds of correspondence from public relations agencies about new gadgets and products, but this is one I thought I would pass on to you right now. I love tilapia and I might just enter myself. May the best foodie win!!

Calling all creative and cost-conscious cooks! Regal Springs Tilapia, the world’s largest producer of the mild-tasting, popular fish, is searching for the best family-friendly tilapia meal for no more than $15. Six finalists will receive cash prizes. The grand prize winner receives $5,000 and may appear on the company’s website and promotional materials. The contest begins May 15 and ends August 1, 2009.

Anyone in the 50 contiguous United States and District of Columbia who is over 18 and enjoys cooking fish can enter the contest. Recipes must be original and meals must include a tilapia entrée, salad and vegetable or fruit to feed a family of four for no more than $15. The judges may consist of professional chefs, restaurateurs and managers in the food service industry. Winners will be notified by email and announced on the website by Sept. 1. Judges will base their decisions on the following criteria: creativity, ingredients, thoroughness of instructions, and other such criteria as may be determined by Regal Springs Tilapia. For complete Contest requirements, Official Rules and to enter the Contest, log on to or stop by booth no. 4264.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pork Stuffed With Sundried Tomatoes

Well, I'm doing pretty good on the low-carb thing again. Not much weight loss to announce except what I had to lose again after Mardi Gras and Easter. I'm trying to be more creative than just putting meat on the grill, although I love to do that. We've been eating turkey burgers, chicken breasts and pretty plain stuff, so I thought I'd try something fancy - fancy for me, anyways.

My husband gave me a couple of great Trader Joe's products for mother's day - he did a good thing by not buying chocolate! I decided to try out the Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta. But what do you do with bruschetta besides put it on bread? That was the dilemma.

I decided to stuff a pork roast with it. So easy. My roast was about 1.5 lbs and I used about half of this 12 oz. jar. I also mixed the bruschetta with some fresh parmesan cheese before I stuffed it inside the pork. Carefully slice an opening through the middle of the roast and spoon in the bruschetta. Seal the open end with toothpics. I cooked mine over indirect heat (about 300 degrees) on the grill for just under two hours. In the oven, I would probably do 350 degrees for just over an hour - it will depend on the size and thickness of the roast.

The flavors of the sweet sundried tomatoes and salty olives really went well with the pork and marinated nicely into the meat. This bruschetta was not very oily and was packed very densly into the jar, so it went a long way. You could use a lot less if you wanted.

If you have any other low-carb ideas for the other half of the jar, let me know!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Chicken Asparagus Roll Ups at the Wedding

The scene:
The ballroom was bathed in white satin and candlelight. “Over the top” would be an understatement. Did we really need so many glasses at each place setting? Real crystal at that. It was bad enough that I was overly anxious about who would be seated next to me, but now I needed to worry about using the wrong fork or eating someone else’s bread.

I found my place card – not just any place card, but a mini-sterling silver frame with my name engraved across the top and a photo of the bride and groom inside. As I awaited the arrival of the others at the “we-don’t-have-a-date table," I glanced at the menu. Baby lettuce salad with roasted peppers and goat cheese. Choice of filet mignon with a red wine blue cheese sauce or chicken rolled with provolone, parmesan and asparagus with a creamy butter sauce. Chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries. At least I won’t have food anxiety.

Slowly the ballroom filled with people who knew the bride probably a lot better than I did. But I’m guessing not one of them knew her well enough to say what I was about to say.

2 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin
6 stalks of asparagus
Sliced provolone cheese (approx. 4 large slices)
Shredded or grated Parmesan (approx ¼ cup)
Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder

3 Tbls. butter
1 Tbls. flour
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder

Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. (Or marinate chicken in your favorite Italian-style marinade). Sprinkle chicken with Parmesan cheese. Layer the provolone cheese on top of the Parmesan. Place three asparagus stalks at the bottom end of the chicken breasts and roll to the top. Secure with several toothpicks. Cook in 350 oven for approx 25 – 30 min.

For sauce, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk well for about one minute, or until flour is dissolved in butter and starts to slightly bubble. Add seasonings. Add milk slowly and whisk to combine. Heat for 3 – 5 minutes over medium heat and whisk frequently.

Lessons learned – Use lots of toothpicks. It’s pretty hard to keep chicken rolled up when it is stuffed with stuff. And you don’t want all of that cheese getting out all over the place. And, you may notice in the photo that I grilled the chicken. I wasn’t about to let a mild Chicago Spring day pass me by without using the grill. The problem was that I didn’t use enough toothpicks, and the chicken decided to stick to the grill. You can see the missing grill marks in my photo. But the rest turned out perfectly – the asparagus on the inside was tender and just the tips were a little crunchy. The dish didn’t really need the creamy butter sauce, but it sure was good. Serve it on the side if you’d like.

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