Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Honey-Jalapeño Chicken

I get a lot of emails from cooking and knitting sites. Kinda predictable since this is a blog about cooking and knitting.

So, I open an email a few days ago from The Splendid Table and this deliciousness appeared:

Honey-Jalapeño Chicken Tenders.


The original recipe is from The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food by Ian Knauer. 

Both daughters were home on Sunday so I decided to make these little lovelies.    I used chicken breasts instead of tenders….I think they a bit heartier when grilling.

Honey-Jalapeño Chicken

1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (I used only 3)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Juice of the lemon you just zested (I added this)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds chicken tenders (I used boneless breasts, cut into thirds)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sour cream or plain yogurt for serving

1. Preheat the grill and oil the grill rack.

2. Whisk together the honey, soy sauce, oil, garlic, jalapeño, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss the chicken in the marinade and let stand for at least 10 minutes.  I put my concoction in a zip-lock bag and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour.

3. Grill the chicken until well browned and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve the chicken sprinkled with the cilantro and a dollop of sour cream or yogurt on the plate.

The chicken was zesty and flavorful, not too spicy and perfectly cooled and complemented by the sour cream and cilantro.  Lynne from The Splendid Table suggested pairing the chicken with couscous and corn-on-the-cob, but I opted to serve risotto and grilled asparagus and pineapple.

Well now…the lemon/honey combo is certainly tasty and useful for more than just a sore throat!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Designer Show House

Due to various engagement conflicts, instead of our usual Wednesday evening dinner, Foodie, Singer and I decided to pay a visit to the Community Arts Center DESIGNER SHOW HOUSE.  The house, Fishing Rock Farm – named for a popular fishing hole – is located in Media, PA and is an absolutely stunning multi-designer renovation project. The elegant farmhouse built in 1928 by EK Crothers, sits on 5 acres overlooking Ridley Creek. The entrance off of the main road leads to a cute little wooden bridge, flanked by two beautiful stone pillars.  The bridge could only be more adorable if it were an elfin covered bridge!

I was super excited!

Until my camera died.

Too bad, but….

….thank goodness my iPhone saved the day!  Athough the photographs are nice, I was not able to capture some of the delightful nuances of this yesteryear masterpiece.  Regardless, I hope you enjoy the vicarious snapshot tour of this lovely home!

Grand Staircase and Entrance Hall, Savery Design

A Bibliophile’s Study, PVM Designs

The Salon/Living Room, Turnkey Spaces. 

Love the painting in this room!

Camelot, Dining Room.  Simply Divine Interiors.

An Artful Transition, First Floor Porch. Decorating Den Interiors. My favorite room.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the metal root chairs!

In Bloom Nursery, Jane Eustace Interior Design.

Elegant English Retreat – Master Suite, Maria V. Nelson Interiors.

Home Office, Michele Plachter Design.

“Framed: - Second Floor Enclosed Porch, Barlow Tyrie Inc.

Back Hall, C Barry Marron, Embellisher.  I love the detail of the wallpaper on the ceiling.  Pieces cut and installed asymmetrically.  Fabulous.

Sewing Room, Janice Martin Couture

Kitchen, Michael Shannon Designs.  My second favorite room.  I adore the wall paper…colors, scale, everything about it!
Love the window blinds...they remind me (in a good way) of those in my Grandmom's house!

This was a monumental enterprise….Bravo CAC, bravo!
We stopped and had a glass of wine and dinner at Piccasso's afterwards. Met several other Showcase house visitors there! A wonderful evening.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Porch

You might be familiar with this practice.

You have an absolutely functional and fabulous covered outside space, perhaps a porch or patio, and it becomes so loaded with stuff that the producers of Hoaders could justifiably pay you a visit.

We all seem to have the propensity (in varying degrees) to store old windows, doors and maybe even a radiator (or two) in such a space with good intentions of properly discarding or reusing the retired items.   They sit and sit until, one day you decide enough already and you get the crap hauled away, freeing the space to be used as intended.

Or so I’ve heard.

I have a lovely screened-in porch on the side of my house that fell victim to such an indignity…she was just pleading with me to beautify her, and so I did.

I had old shit stuff hauled away.

I replaced the screen door.

I had the floor sanded and painted a beautiful shade of YELLOW.

I gave the screen frames a fresh coat of paint.  And…

I got a new wicker rocking chair.

I think I'll get a ceiling fan too....what a serene and comfortable space now!

The best part...people walking by have absolutely no idea I'm there!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strawberry Shortcakes

Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest sources.  

Like when I’m on the plane coming back from Hawaii (because it’s not like I had anything else to do for 10 hours) and while browsing through the complimentary in-flight USAirways Magazine (see, some things are still free) I see this recipe for individual strawberry shortcakes.

So, I ripped the page out and decided to make them the next time my assignment was dessert…which was last week but I’m posting the recipe this week because I forgot to take photos of the dinner I made this week.   Spaghetti and meatballs but you can read about that here in a previous post.

I had to (once again) borrow sugar from my neighbor who also shared her simple but sensible secret for sweetening homemade whipped cream…or as youngest daughter used to call it “whooped cream.” She also used to say that we lived in “Baltimorrow” and we used to go out to eat in “Resternauts.” Anyway, back to the point, my neighbor uses confectioners sugar to sweeten homemade whipped cream…it dissolves more evenly and nicely.

I am writing sugar on my grocery list now.

Individual Strawberry Shortcakes

For the strawberries
2 pints of strawberries
3 Tablespoons of sugar
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

For the Biscuits
(I used the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box)
1 cup of Bisquick
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup of fat-free milk
Few drops of vanilla extract (my addition)

For the Whipped Cream
1 cup of heavy cream
1 Tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar

Heat the oven to 425°.

Slice the tops off and quarter the strawberries.  Place berries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice.  Stir gently and let stand until a light syrup forms, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir Bisquick, sugar, milk and vanilla until soft dough forms.  Drop 4 spoonfuls on to an cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, add the confectioner’s sugar to the cream and whip into soft peaks.

When the biscuits are done, let them cool a bit and assemble the shortcakes by slicing the biscuits in half, add some strawberries, place the lid back on, top with whipped cream and more strawberries and syrup and serve!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Amazing Mother's Day Self-Striping Yarn Shawl

I see this pattern for a shawl on and it calls for using six skeins of “Amazing” self-striping yarn. The pattern seems easy and I am fascinated by how self-striping yarns work to produce such an even, non-random pattern. I decide to knit one for my mom for Mother’s Day who is always cold when she comes to my house.

They say the skin thins as we get older making it harder to stay warm.

Another thing to eagerly anticipate.

Anyway, first I decide to investigate this self-striping business (maybe I’m just dense and the rest of the world gets it). Here are my search terms:

The first result is from one of my reliable go-to answer sites, They tell me that “self-striping yarn is yarn that is dyed in a specific, technical manner to ensure (or at least make it pretty likely) that the color changes will line up more or less in stripes along the knitted fabric.” They also say the yarn works best on projects using simple patterns, such as the stockinette stitch. So glad that I decided to follow the Lion Brand pattern instructions or I may be giving my mom a jagged mess – although I suspect that she would love anything I knitted for her. I used five balls of Lion Brand Amazing's self-striping yarn in the Glacier Bay color so it's not as long as the pattern calls for.

Redwood Shawl
Lion Brand® Amazing®
Cast on 81 stitches.
Row 1: Knit 1, *purl 1, knit 1; repeat from * across.
Row 2: Knit.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until about 2 yds (2 m) of yarn remains. Bind off. Weave in ends.

Here is my finished shawl. Lion Brand touts that this line of yarns “creates gorgeous color combinations without changing yarns.” I agree and would love to hear what you think. I think my mom will love it and I won’t have to turn my thermostat up to 80º the next time she visits!

This shawl was truly a labor of love (because of the stitch repetition especially considering the length and width) and --bonus -- it's been to Ireland! For an Irish lass, that will make this gift even more special. I knitted on the plane to pass the time.

Incidently, some of the search results showed how to dye your own self-striping yarn.

That would be pushing it…besides, I don’t own any sheep.

My next project is a felted should be done by Christmas!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Waste Not

So, Architect had a few things in her refrigerator…mushrooms, tortellini and cream. Not being a wasteful sort, she wanted to use the ingredients she had on hand to prepare for our Wednesday night dinner so she typed those ingredients into for some recipe inspiration. This is the partial list of recipes yummly returned:
She chose Tortellini with Creamy Mushroom Sauce. But, before I share the recipe, I’d like to say just a few words about recipe-generation websites like How cool is it that the “what will I have for dinner” conundrum can be decided for us? Plus, when someone tells us how to be creative about preparing what we already have on hand, we are less likely to be wasteful.

The book American Wasteland says that “Americans squander between a quarter and a half of all the food produced in the United States. Even using the more conservative figure would mean that 160 billion pounds of food are squandered annually--more than enough, that is, to fill the Rose Bowl to the brim.”

Admit it; we are all somewhat guilty of waste. You probably have a potato or two growing spores or some fuzzy stuff germinating in a jar of applesauce right now. By adjusting habits – buy less and consciously use more of what we already have – you spend less and you enjoy more free time because you won’t have to food shop or clean the refrigerator as often.

Tortellini with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
1 lb tortellini
¼ cup olive oil
1 ¼ cup of mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup of heavy cream (the original recipe called for more…you don’t need that much)
A good handful of arugula (the original called for parsley but the arugula added a peppery flavor)
Pinch of nutmeg
Parmesan cheese for topping

Cook pasta and keep warm. Heat the oil and sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for one minute more. Stir in wine and cook for another 5 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Add cream, nutmeg and arugula and give it a swirl. Cook until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Place the tortellini on plates, spoon the sauce over and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

We also had a delicious salad with onions, radishes and peas served in the lovely traveling salad bowl and a fantastic bottle of red wine. I made individual Strawberry Shortcakes…stay tuned.
Architect has a new Luna!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pearl Harbor

I was recently in Hawaii for a conference. A beautiful venue but because I was in class all day, I did not have much of an opportunity to explore paradise.
I was determined, however, to visit Pearl Harbor so on the last day of the conference a colleague and I boarded a tour bus and headed across Oahu to the site of the attack more than 70 years ago.
Access to the Memorial is only possible by a Navy boat that departs every hour. Before boarding, visitors view a short movie, and during the screening I attended, you could hear a pin drop. Every visitor, without exception, was deferential and respectful, recognizing that we were about to visit solemn ground. While there, I chatted very briefly with an older veteran...our words were few, but heartfelt, each of us tearing up trying to imagine a day that was a grim reality for so many.
The Memorial itself is built over the sunken USS Arizona. From the memorial, visitors peer over the porch-like sides to view the shadowy remains of the vessel that lies 60 feet below, now corroded and covered with various sea life. 1,177 sailors died during the attack and the Arizona serves as the final resting place for 1,102 of them.
The Arizona still leaks 2-3 quarts of oil per day. This leakage is often referred to as "black tears" or "tears of the Arizona" and it is said that when the oil stops leaking, all the souls lost will finally be at peace.
There is a wall at the back of the memorial that lists the names of the servicemen who died that day and I suspect that no words could ever assuage the grief of Mrs. McClafferty, or Mrs. Restivo, or Mrs. Czarnecki, or Mrs. Robertson, or Mrs. Greenfield after learning of the death of a beloved child or spouse following the horror and shock of the attack.
The USS Arizona is obviously retired but the site of her premature decommissioning serves as an official military cemetery. A United States flag flys continuously as a tribute to the ship and her lost crew and in remembrance of "the day that will live in infamy."

A Memorial docent shared several pieces of information including that the Arizona receives over 4,000 visitors each day and that every President since FDR has visited. He also told us that some funds to build the Memorial were made possible through the proceeds of an Elvis Presley concert in 1961.
A visit I will not forget. Ever. My next big adventure....Normandy Beach.

Memorial overhead image is from Google images.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pasta with Lemon Zest, Ricotta and Arugula

Is there anything more delicious and delectable as ricotta cheese? Okay, maybe, mascarpone cheese, but we didn’t use mascarpone cheese in this recipe so ricotta is the star of this post. Ricotta is versatile and delicious. It is used in Italian savory dishes such as lasagna, ravioli, calzones and pizza as well as desserts like cannoli, cheesecake, Easter Pie and the most scrumptious cookies typically coated with an almond glaze and multi-colored sprinkles.

Foodie made a dish that called for ricotta and she decided to make it fresh!

She is so ambitious.

It’s actually pretty easy but you do need a cooking thermometer to make it correctly.

I don’t have cooking thermometer.


Pasta with Lemon Zest, Ricotta and Arugula
Adapted from the

4 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat milk, cream and salt to 190° then remove from heat. Add the lemon juice. Stir gently and let sit for 10 minutes until curdling occurs. Place a colander in a bowl lined with several sheets of cheesecloth and gently ladle milk into the lined colander. Let the mixture sit for 1/2 hour to one hour.

Then she used the home-made ricotta in the pasta recipe.

Sea salt
1 pound wide egg pasta such as papardelle...Foodie used spinach noodles
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 Lemons
3 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.

While the pasta cooks, grate a generous handful of parmesan into a large serving bowl. It looked like Foodie grated about 1 ½ cups. Zest the lemons into the same bowl and add the arugula. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Juice 1 of the lemons and reserve.

2. When the pasta is done, drain it and transfer to the bowl with the cheese, lemon, and arugula. Working quickly, sprinkle the lemon juice and some pasta water. Add the ricotta and begin to fold all the ingredients together. Keep folding until the pasta is coated with the sauce, the cheese has melted, and the arugula has wilted a bit. Season with pepper and taste. Add more lemon juice or pepper if desired. If the sauce is too gloppy, add a bit more pasta water and mix again. Drizzle with a hint of olive oil before serving.

We also had a field green salad served in the lovely traveling salad bowl and angel food cake with oranges and Chambord for dessert. We also polished off two bottles of wine. I ran three miles this morning to compensate.