Friday, February 22, 2013

Cookbook Challenge #4 - Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking

This week, there was a bit of a delay in my post…but for good reason. We are spending the weekend in a rental apartment in Syracuse, NY. Everything was covered in a picturesque layer of snow and the moment we arrived, a welcoming flurry greeted us with a cool February smile.

Being away from home, I thought this would be a great opportunity to think outside my kitchen. I decided that the semi-homemade style of Sandra Lee was perfect for cooking in a kitchen I’ve never cooked in before and wasn’t even sure what supplies were there.
With a kitchen full of only pots, pans and salt and pepper, Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Cooking cookbook is perfect for when you don’t have a pantry to pull from. Semi-Homemade cooking is described as 70% store-bought ingredients and 30% fresh-food to make foods that were prepared in minutes and taste like they were made completely from scratch. I found two recipes that made a hefty dinner – Curried Bow Tie Salad and Lemon Turkey Cutlets. And better yet, the only things I’m taking back home with me are my new containers of curry powder and dried onion flakes.
 Curried Bow Tie Salad

3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons curry powder*
16 oz (2 small cans) pineapple chunks, drained
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 medium red apple, cored and cubed
8 oz bowtie pasta/farfalle (about ½ a box)
Salt and pepper to taste

*Curry powder is not a hot curry. This made for a VERY mild curry – which is a great introduction to curry if you have not had it before, but we added extra to the leftovers and think it’s going to be much better when we have it for lunch today. If you want more curry taste – double it.

Follow instructions on box to prepare pasta to firm. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix sour cream and curry powder to blend. Fold in avocado, pineapple, apples and pasta. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 1 day.

After tasting, we felt this salad would be an excellent summer all-in-one salad if you add cooked and cubed chicken.

Serves 4 
 Lemon Turkey Cutlets

1-1 1/2 pounds boneless and skinless turkey cutlets
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs**
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes***
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

** The recipe called for 2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion, but I thought that onion flakes would be a more economical choice for us this trip. Add more if you like more onion flavor. My hubby isn’t a big fan.

*** The recipe called for 1 cup of breadcrumbs, but as you can see in the pictures below, there was almost ALL of it left. I cut it in half for the recipe above, but I’m sure you can use 1/3 of a cup like the flour with no problem also.

Rinse cutlets with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper each cutlet and set aside.

In a shallow bowl, put the flour. In another bowl, mix the egg and the lemon juice. In a third bowl, mix breadcrumbs with onion flakes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, dip cutlet in flour then egg mixture, then into the breadcrumbs, making sure to cover all the meat and tap off the extra of each mixture before adding the meat to the next one. Place cutlet in hot oil and cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. When done, take out cutlets and place on clean paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

Serves 4
before dipping

after dipping - looks like I didn't do anything

To make this a complete dinner, I made the salad first and while it was in the fridge, I had plenty of time to do the cutlets. They are not listed as 2 recipes that need to go together in the cookbook, but we found that they complimented each other very nicely.
An Irish Stout and a Diet Coke make it a dinner for two
Some highlights from Syracuse and the Finger Lakes
Day 1 - Arriving and settling in - oh, and making dinner...
Having a coney dog (pronounced "coo-ney") from Heid's for lunch 
Day 2 - Beer and Cheese tastings in the Finger Lakes
3 Brother's Winery complex in Geneva, NY
We checked out War Horse!
Thanks Andrew for the Cincinnati - 1/2 lager, 1/2 root beer - YUM!! 
Amazing cheddars and more at Miranda Cheese Company
in Waterloo, NY 
 Tasting pint of a Amber Lager at Naked Dove Brewing Company
in Canandaigua, NY 

 And we found this in Geneva also - Red Jacket Orchards, an
Union Square Farmers Market staple. It's closing it's outlet for a bit
so we got some great deals. 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

52 Cookbooks Challenge #3: Little Paris Kitchen

Last weekend we found Nemo. Snowstorm Nemo made its way through New York City and up the east coast fulfilling the snowy wishes of those of us that haven’t seen much of the white stuff so far this winter. A final count of 12-24 inches of snow painted a winter wonderland for a Saturday morning and definitely sparked the need for a little kitchen warmth and hearth love. Lucky for me, Rachel Khoo, English native gone Parisian, had just released her cookbook in the U.S., The Little Paris Kitchen.

Rachel’s cooking show of the same name has been running on The Cooking Channel since the start of the New Year. I was never a French food person, honestly. Too much escargot and too many capers for my taste plus (gasp) I’m not a huge French pastry fan. But not even half-way through the first 30 minute episode I watched, I knew I was hooked. The recipes were simple and they used ingredients I had in my fridge. There was decadence to both the sweet and savory recipes and how could you go wrong with fresh, warm, crunchy bread? The recipes didn’t take a lot of special tools and were most likely faster to make than most of my current dinner repertoire. After that first episode, I was ready and willing to try French food at home.

I immediately jumped on the internet and looked for one of the recipes I’d just seen, but to my chagrin, the Cooking Channel website had not listed any of the recipes yet. After a few more episodes and more recipes I wanted to try still not appearing on the website, I knew that I just needed to bite the bullet and buy the new cookbook, Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen.

Poulet au Citron et Lavende
 (Lemon and Lavender Chicken)
Adaptation of the recipe from The Little Paris Kitchen

1 tablespoon dried lavender*
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2-4 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken (either 2 leg quarters or 4 thighs and/or legs)**
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch of salt

* Be sure that your lavender is made to steep for tea and/or to cook with. Not all lavender is made for consumption. Lavender extract can be used if need be, but it’s not really the same and not as good.

** I choose dark meat for 2 reasons – more flavor and cheaper by the pound. If you wish, you can use breast meat or double the recipe and use a whole chicken split into 8-10 pieces.

Do not preheat oven yet.

In a mortar with a pestle, add lavender and dried thyme. Muddle to release and revive the dried herbs.

In a large zip close bag, add chicken pieces. Sprinkle over dried herbs. Add the balance of the ingredients and seal the bag. Mush around chicken in the bag to cover completely with ingredients. Place bag in dish (to avoid leaking everywhere) and let set for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400°F for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Remove chicken pieces from bag and place in roasting dish with skin down, making sure to get as much of the marinade from the bag as possible. Discard bag.

Roast for 45 minutes or until juices run clear when poked at the thickest part of the meat. Turn chicken pieces to skin up about 20 minutes in to let crisp. Let set 5-10 minutes before cutting to let the juices reincorporate. Serve with crunchy bread to soak up the lovely, tangy, floral juices.

Serves 2-4


Friday, February 8, 2013

Week off the Challenge for a Craft Fair

I don't want to disappoint and I know it's early to be taking a "break" but I swear I have a good reason.

My friend, Cat and I will be sharing a table at the Astoria Craft Fair at the Beer Garden this Sunday, February 10 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.. We will be selling cookies, beautiful handmade toys and tea cozies and handmade earrings. 

For more information on the Astoria Market Craft Fair visit the event page at

To see Cat's beautiful homemade goodies, please visit her Etsy site at

Here is what my oven (and my friend's Sarah's oven) has spent the week doing - 

I Love M&M Cookies - chewy and crunchy at the same time.

Sweet Southern Tea Cookies - sweet and tart and perfect for a cuppa

Sugar Love Cookies - sugar rolled in sugar - um... yum!

Lavender Valentine Cookies - sweet with a touch of relaxing herbal perfume

Choco-Cherry Passion Cookies - rich and almost crumbly dark chocolate with cherry buttons

My week also included a new addition to my cookbook wall.  Talk about feeding an obsession - I know - but I couldn't help myself.

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

I have seen the show on Food Channel and want to try one of everything on every show.   There is a snow storm heading to NYC and this will be my snowy Sunday retreat!  It's going to be Challenge Cookbook #3.  Details next week!

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo - my Nemo project

Snowman Pancakes - Simple and Fun!

photo: Non-Foodie Foodie Over the summer we traveled the Ohio River Valley visiting family. One of our stops was to visit my Aunt Cathy...