Monthly Archives: July 2007













No recipe today. Just a few pictures of our ventures in Simpson donut making. In celebration for the movie coming out tonight, Matt turned his weekly bread baking into a donut-homage to Homer. My contribution: the hot pink icing. We may even smuggle a few into the theater…although it would be great if they served donuts and Buzz cola instead of popcorn and coke. 🙂












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Thai Basil Chicken

This recipe was first attempted by Matt. I could make this in my sleep, but we always seem to make it together. He made it well over a year ago and it was honestly, the greatest flavor packed into one, tiny bowl, that my newly experimenting palette had tried. It simply combines a few traditional Thai flavors, such as basil, peppers, fish sauce, soy sauce and garlic. I had never even heard of “fish sauce” until that day and you couldn’t get me to touch something by that name before, but honestly, folks, if you try this recipe, you will go through at least 4 bottles of fish sauce a year. So don’t worry about that whole, “I’ll only need it for this recipe and then I’ll have a 9/10ths full bottle of fish sauce in my fridge till I die. You’ll use it. And you’ll be happy that you tried something totally new….well, most of you. 🙂

Thai Basil Chicken

1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups of minute rice
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 cup fresh leaf basil
3-4 seeded jalapeños (or 1-2 Thai peppers – we can never find them around here, though)
5-6 cloves of garlic, diced
2 tbs fish sauce (found in the Asian food isle)
2-3 tbs soy sauce (recommended: Pearl River Bridge)
4 eggs

This recipe goes much more smoothly if you get everything chopped and ready to throw in because the cooking goes fast. Stick the chicken thighs in the freezer about an hour or so before cooking because it’s much easier to chop if it’s a little solid. Matt has a sort of obsession with how little he chops the chicken for this recipe. He likes bits of chicken about as small as the bits of diced onion. I’m a tad bit lazy on this part, but I will admit – when everything is the same size in the bowl, it eats a lot easier. 🙂
Heat up a wok over high heat.  Add a little peanut or olive oil to the wok and let it get hot.  Toss in your garlic and stir until light brown.  The second it is brown, throw in your onions and stir a few times.  (if you burn the garlic, you have to start with fresh again. There is no pain like burned garlic).  After the onions cook and are beginning to soften, toss in the jalapeños.  If you like a spicier dish, wait until after you cook the chicken to toss in the peppers.
Toss in your chicken and continue stirring until the chicken is just cooked through.  (about 4 min on high heat).  Add in your fish and soy sauce and stir.
You may have to let a bit of liquid cook off.  Depending on the chicken you buy, some are injected with water and so it can take a while to cook this off.  You don’t want a really liquidy dish.  Let most of it cook off before you plate.
While the juices are cooking off, equally divide the rice among 4 bowls.  (cereal bowl size).  Right before you ladle the chicken, stir in the basil.  Stir the pan a few times until the basil wilts (will only take a few seconds) and then divide equally among the bowls.  This dish is served with a fried egg on top (really, it’s the best ever) and I use the bottom of the wok to fry them because it still has all those lovely juices and onion bits that you can incorporate into your egg.  You may need to add a little more oil to fry so they don’t stick to the bottom.

Serves 4 very happy people.

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Recipe of the Day

dsc_0096.jpg again, no pic of the food, so here’s a pretty lily picture I took

Okay, so getting a chicken salad sandwich anywhere is pretty much invitation for premature heart issues and water retention.  The gloppy mayonnaise, the white bread…horrible.  Yet so…wonderful.  I have to admit, I’m not a mayo enthusiast, but I’ve always loved a good ol’ saturated chicken salad sandwich.  I ran across a great page in one of my Real Simple issues on Chicken Salad 4 Ways.  It was just a good, base recipe and then little ways you can vary it.  I developed from those suggestions, my own version and something that is really refreshing, really tasty, but not quite as….white.

Everything Chicken Salad

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 small Granny Smith apple, fine dice
1 large scallion, chopped
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, quartered
1/2 cup light mayo
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped watercress
1/2 tsp curry powder
A dash or two of Kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper

The rotisserie chickens come in several flavors at the grocery store.  I usually get something like the garlic or the lemon herb for this dish because while you take the skin off anyway (I hope) you still don’t want a heavy barbecue taste to the chicken for this recipe.  So yeah, take that chicken home and while it is still hot (it makes life so much easier), pull the chicken meat apart and just shred it by pulling each piece apart a few times.  Dice up your Granny Smith apple, scallion, grapes, walnuts and watercress and mix in with the chicken.  I sometimes toss it all together with my hands so that I don’t smash all the ingredients with a spoon.
Add the mayo, curry powder, salt and pepper and go ahead and use a spoon to mix it all together.  I like to serve this in those cute little pita pockets, with a garnish of extra watercress and scallions.
Serves 4

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Sausage and Spinach Rigatoni

This is honestly a recipe that I make differently each time, but miraculously, it always tastes the same. I have made this in about 10 minutes, when I knew my parents were in town and hadn’t had lunch yet, I’ve made this for a nice dinner with wine, and I’ve made it a sort of “bake” for a quick lunch. Versatile! (and who knows what version of this recipe I’ll write down here).

Sausage and Spinach Rigatoni

1 package turkey sausage links, removed from casings (the package I buy has 6 large links)
2 cups large diameter Rigatoni pasta (big tubes are fun)
1/2 cup white wine (what you’d want to drink)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
1/2 cup Ricotta cheese (this is where it varies. I’ve used everything from heavy cream to sour cream – whatever is in the fridge)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 tsp Kosher Salt
A swirl of olive oil

If any of you have my cookbook, I realize this recipe is in there, but I’m not getting up to go find what version is in there. This is how I’d make this recipe today and so it stands. 🙂

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, swirl a bit of olive oil (extra virgin) on the bottom of the pan. Remove sausages from their casings (kitchen shears make this easy) and toss into pan. Break up the sausage as it browns into small, bite sized pieces. Deglaze* the pan from time to time with the white wine and once the sausage is all cooked, put the rest of the wine in there. If you used it all in the deglazing process, just add a little more (maybe a little more than a splash? haha-honestly, I have no idea anymore how to measure this recipe out).
Meanwhile, put water on to boil and cook pasta to package instructions.
Stir in Ricotta cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, minced garlic and salt. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes till it gets bubbly again. Stir in the thawed spinach and cook for 1 minute more. Drain your pasta and throw in the skillet. Stir to coat evenly, sprinkle salt over the top and give it one last stir. Ladle into pasta bowls, top with a little extra dash of salt and crushed red pepper and serve.
Serves 4

variations: ladle into 16oz. souffle cups, top with Parmesan cheese and put under the broiler until cheese is brown and bubbly.
*for those who may not know (you know who you are), deglazing is a process where the fat or juices from meat are becoming caramelized on the bottom of the pan, so you pour liquid (broth, wine, water) into the pan to loosen and scrape up the brown bits – this is where the flavor is, so you don’t want to miss out!

(I’ve never taken a picture of this dish so here’s a nice picture of different sizes of pasta – I’d probably use the second one from the right)


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My Favorite Things

This week I will post several of my most favorite recipes. These are ones I make most often, that are easiest to me and that have just enough familiarity that I have started to do them from memory, no need to seek out weights and measures. (this is what I hope will happen with all recipes eventually.)


The Only Guacamole Recipe You’ll Ever Need

2 large avocados
1 lime
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 hearty scallions
1 jalapeño, small dice
1 generous sprinkle of Kosher salt


I hope you know how to pick out avocados. If you gently squeeze them and your finger goes in more than a quarter inch, they are too ripe. You want slight give…but not rock hard. If you do get rock hard avocados, take them home and put them in a brown paper bag for a couple of days and make your guacamole then.


Anyway, scoop out the flesh of the avocados into a medium-sized bowl. Add tomatoes, garlic, scallions, jalapeño and salt and mix well. (I use a potato masher or a small whisk and just punch it a few times–I like chunks). Squeeze half a lime over the top and mix in. Squeeze the other half on top and sprinkle with a touch more salt (to taste) and serve. The lime will keep the avocado from turning brown. Serve with warm corn tortilla chips.


Serves 4 or 1 person over the course of an afternoon.




Filed under Food Stuffs

Coffee and Doughnuts


Last week while we were in Tulsa, Matt decided to tackle a recipe from the French Laundry cookbook. Chef Thomas Keller is known for naming extraordinary dishes after common cuisine. For instance, his “Macaroni and Cheese” is really butter-poached Maine lobster with creamy lobster broth and mascarpone-enriched orzo pasta. So when Matt decided on the Coffee and Doughnuts, we knew some of the ingredients would be hard to find. The “coffee” of the coffee and donuts is really a cappuccino semifreddo. Which means the most luscious coffee mousse, half frozen, with hot milk frothed and dolloped on top. The steamed milk makes the mousse melt a bit and the result is a silky espresso flavored cream.


The doughnuts were left to rise until fluffy and huge, and then fried for just a few seconds in vegetable oil. Apparently the smell of hot grease is unnerving to a Yorkshire Terrier. The oil began to smoke, which sent Matt’s dad’s dog into a violent shake until the smoke cleared. What a weenie.

Anyway, needless to say, good recipes hold up. Even with our not-as-California-as-we’d-like ingredients, our doughnuts still turned out magnificently fluffy with a perfect cinnamon-sugar crunch. The espresso mousse was the sexiest thing I’d eaten in a while and even the not-so-adventurous eaters in the house loved how it all turned out. Success! I love my husband. 🙂

Not exactly demitasse cups, but they worked!

The Not-So-Adventurous Eater:
not a fan of the coffee, but a definite fan of the doughnut

whatever – like anyone would really leave a bite behind.


Filed under Food Stuffs

4th of July

Last week we spent a few days in Tulsa, visiting Matt’s parents. We had a great time and cooked really great recipes (I will expound in a later post). Watched the fireworks from a bridge and while they weren’t spectacular, there were a few opportunities for some cool shots. You can see all of the pictures from our 4th here, but for now, here are a few of my favorites.


The true stars of the day: backyard tomatoes, the ultimate guacamole, chipotle-lime chicken and buffalo burgers, and last but not least, curry-taragon deviled eggs.


A few shots from camping out on the bridge, steadying my camera on the top of the bridge with one hand, myself with the other–all about 100 feet from a bunch of water–not the best idea.

Some fireworks going on behind the Oral Roberts towers and about 8 miles away was “The Biggest Fireworks Show Tulsa Has Ever Seen”
dang it 🙂

My favorite shot. A lovely purple firework set off to our left at some restaurant.


A moody sky. Why is it that it always rains and lightenings on the 4th?




Filed under General Hoo-Ha, Photography