Introducing Creativity To The Alternative Diet: Many of us have segued from traditional dietary lifestyle to alternative dietary lifestyles, i.e. Gluten free, Vegan, Grain free, Real food, etc. What are we discovering?? These recipes are NOT mediocre!

Monday, June 30, 2008


So to quote my husband's review of this recipe, "It was grubbin'." I am going to take that as a compliment and keep this recipe as one of our favorites! I was worried about the chicken as my chicken breasts were much thicker than the recipe called for and they took more than twice the time to cook, but they still turned out tender and juicy! The sauce was delectable, and I will definitely use Stacita's recommendation in the future and mix the noodles and sauce together so as to enjoy it even more. Thank you Eva! It is so fun trying new foods!

My favorite pasta salad ever! And it is easy.

So I got a request from my mom to make my Spaghetti salad so i thought i would share it. All you need to do is cook some thin spaghetti noodles and Italian dressing and some salad elegance seasoning then cut up some cherry tomatoes and a cucumber then add a can of sliced olives. That is it. I love to take it camping and to any summer BBQ. It is always a hit plus it is easy as all get out. Hope you ladies like it as much as I do.

Tofu Curry - YUMM YUMM!

I made the tofu curry last night and it was a hit all around the table! I also tried out edamame for the first time and again - three cheers around the table! I used fish sauce instead of soy sauce as Alyssa had suggested. But otherwise stuck to the recipe exactly. However, I felt like there was a little too much lime so next time I'll not put quite as much. I also had neglected to get rice at the store but thankfully had couscous and that was fine. I really like rice though so next time I will have rice for sure! I felt like the tofu was a bit chewy and I wonder if I fried it a bit too long...? Any input from anyone? Andy loved it and I was very pleased when he said he wanted me to make it again. So for those of you who didn't give your hubby's a chance to like it, you should try. We used A LOT more cilantro and peanuts than the recipe called for. By the way, I did double the sauce and it's a good thing I did because even at that we ate every drop! So any suggestions about what to do with the few ounces of coconut milk I have left over? Stacy, this was a hit at my house and I will definitely be making the edamame and tofu curry again! THREE THUMBS UP!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Could I just swim in this sauce please?

Chicken Marsala update: Absolutely delicious. The sauce was amazing. I would only do one thing differently next time (and I will definately make it again). I have a penne a la vodka recipe in which you undercook the pasta just a bit and then mix it in with the sauce to finish cooking it. The pasta really soaks up the sauce this way. I know that this isn't traditional for chicken marsala at all, but I had a hard time getting the sauce to cling to the pasta so we were scooping it off our plates with spoons in order not to waste any deliciousness! We obviously didn't have company. :) It is possible that I just didn't thicken the sauce enough or I was using the wrong kind of pasta. Other than that, it was amazing. Noah kept saying things like, "Mom, you make the best noodles!" and, "Mom you are the best cook!" Thanks, Eva. This is such a keeper.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Hi Gals! I am now in California, not moved into a house yet however, nestled comfortably in TLF (temp. lodging facility- the military has acronyms for everything). I am brushing up on the past two recipes and going grocery shopping today. I can't wait!!! I have to say again how much fun I am having with our cooking club and blog! Thank you for being so into it and participating, really, I am so glad to have this going on in my life! :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brain Problems

I went to the store last night and bought everything for the Chicken Marsala recipe. Well, almost everything. I realized the minute I got home that I had forgotten to buy chicken!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Salsa

So, I was planning dinner tonight, enchiladas, spanish rice, and a taco"ish" salad (no meat but taco type add ons) when I decided to make fresh Guacamole and salsa which required a trip to the store to buy tomatoes and avacados. I return put the ingredients in the fridge and began making salsa. and the guac. This is something I do from time to time but haven't done in awhile. I started chopping the onions, garlic and cilantro since those things all went in both dishes. Then it came time to chop the tomatoes. I turned to the fridge to grab them and saw a piece of cantaloupe that was not the best melon in the bunch, not very flavorful and destined to go to the trash sooner or later. I think a light bulb went off in the kitchen or something because all of a sudden I am dicing cantaloupe mixing it with the other salsa ingredients and finding the biggest decision I have to make is whether or not to turn back around and actually grab the tomatoes to add to my concoction of cantaloupe salsa. I find a few tiny cherry tomatoes that need to be used and settle on halving them and letting them be an addition rather than a staple to the dish. I taste the salsa, it's got a bit of a kick, I taste the guac. also a bit of a kick no prob for me but not all that I am cooking for care for spicy food. I ponder my options and decide that since it has now taken me about an hour to make just the accompanying dishes to my meal (thank you for the help Katrina) I may want to actually start the main meal. By the time I get the dinner on the table I am impressed by myself and the beautiful spread I created. Picture perfect enchiladas, a salad that looks divine, rice that is perfectly cooked and my salsa and guacamole. I contemplate grabbing the camera to share a picture of it with you all but don't because Katrina is telling me she is ready to eat. Then, I ruin the perfect table setting by throwing on a bag of chips "in case" anyone wants a couple to accompany the rest of the meal.

Well, the salad wasn't even touched, the enchiladas not even half gone, the rice eaten but primarily by Katrina. Why you say did such a perfect meal go uneaten...... We all ate guacamole, salsa and chips! Sure everyone was polite and ate the other stuff as well, but no one could keep their hands off the cantaloupe salsa! What a great dish for a summer evening. It was so refreshing, sweet, yet spicy and completely thrown together as an afterthought. I still have the tomatoes I went to the store to buy just to make salsa.... I guess the moral of the story, before you run to the store to buy ingredients, be sure you don't have the perfect substitute already in your house!

Cookie Monster

I have a tradition of making cookies every time we go camping. So in preparation for last weekend's camping trip, I was on the search for a fun new cookie recipe, and I found a keeper! I have been eating so many of these cookies I am starting to feel like the Cookie Monster. The good news is that they are full of fruit and nuts, so they are not entirely unhealthy. Anyways, I thought I would share the recipe for anyone else who has a sweet tooth. You can find it at
The only changes I made were adding 1 tsp vanilla and some espresso flavored dark chocolate which gave them a fun edge. Just writing about them is making me want another - ahhh!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mojito Mania!

So we, or really I should say I, were on a serious Mojito kick this weekend, I say I because I think I drank like 6 to J man's 1. Anyway fresh mint is in the garden and it is Mojito time! I made regular ones on Friday but then did Pineapple Mojitos on Saturday. I thought they were really good and just a nice twist on the classic Mojito and thought I'd share the recipe. Honestly though I didn't follow it exactly kind of just used it as a base to start from. I also found in a mag a recipe for Peach Mojitos that I'm anxious to try once Peaches are in season here but I'll share that one as well.

Pineapple Mojitos (serves 8) (or 1 who wants to have alot of fun! JK (that means just kidding)

1 bunch fresh mint, stems discarded
2 limes cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup sugar (we've used powdered sugar as well)
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup canned crushed pineapple
1 cup light run
4 cups ice cubes
1 cup club soda

In each of the 8 highball glasses (nice if you have them...we do cups anyone?) crush together one-eighth of the mint leaves, 2 lime wedges and 1 tablespoon of sugar . Stir in 2 tablespoons pineapple juice 2 tablespoons of crushed pineapple and 2 tablespoons of rum until sugar is dissolved. Add 1.2 cup of club soda to each glass. Serve immediately.

Peach Mojitos

3 cups coarsely chopped peeled rip peaches (about a pound)
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 large limes)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
2 cups white rum
4 cups club soda chilled
Crushed ice
Mint sprigs (optional)

Place peaches in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Press peach puree through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Combine rind, lime juice, sugar and mint in a large pitcher; crush juice mixture with back of a long spoon. Add peach puree and rum to pitcher, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in club soda. Serve over crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs if desired (says 10 servings of 2/3 cup each, I think it sounds too good to spread out that far!)

I'm drooling as I write this!

check out "the olive tap" medina ohio

Hi there is the website for "the olive tap" if anyone is interested. David and I found this store at christmas time...they have amazing olive oils and balsmic vinagers. Some of my favorie mixes are: blood orange olive oil and black currentl balsmic / porchini mushroom olive oil and fig balsmic / a mix of garlic and basil olive oils and the traditional 18 yr balsmic / they have so many wonderful flavors but those are just a couple of my favs. Enjoy :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

i played catch up today..

Well girls... i invited my mom and her husband over for dinner along w/my friend becky and my aunte janet who I live with and i made a huge meal. I figured i needed to play catch up since it's been crazy lately so yesterday becky and I went to the Westside Market in cleveland.. it is a really cool market down town w/amazing produce and meats all kinds of stuff. So last night my friends becky and jen and I had gyros and a wonderful salad all fresh from the market. Today I made the tofu curry...kudos stacy.. we all loved it. I served it over brown rice. I cut my tofu in to small bit size pieces and added onion and satued in coconut oil since i didn't have any peanut oil. I took your suggestion and doubled my sauce cause of the rice. Yummy Yummy Yummy... can't wait to have left overs for lunch tomorrow. Eva I thought your reciepe was the cola ribs so I got beef ribs yesterday as my mom and her husband can't eat pork. I misread the reciepe the second time around and didn't catch the 8-9 hrs in the crock. So since i started them after church today and mom was comming at 2..haha i boiled the beef ribs for about 1 hr. put my sauce together.. I altered it a bit.. i used a whole bottle of jacke daniels honey hickory bbq sauce 1/2 c brn sugar some coarse kosher salt, a few drops of liquid smoke a can of reg coke and a can of cherry coke.. i liked the little bit of added cherry.. i thinkened my sauce a little on the stovetop in a sauce pan w/your typical flour & milk thickening agent. Once my ribs had boiled for an hr i put them in a baking dish and covered completely w/the bbq sauce mix and baked on 350 for another 1hr this the sauce was nice and thick and gooey. Wow.. they were to die for. My aunte has a rib cookout for the family every year in august and today i just got ellected to make the bbq sauce... lol. So we'll makeing some of that ahead of time and putting it in jars for the party. With dinner I also got some home made roasted red pepper pasta from the market from a company called ohio city pasta and tossed with it some fresh herbs of sweet basil, lime basil, thyme, coarse kosher salt a lil garlic powder and some wonderful basil/garlic olive oil I got from this great oil and vinager place here in ohio called.. "the olive tap". I did some asparagus w/home made holindaise sauce and mom and bob brought over fresh homemade bread still piping hot and we dipped it in a mix of porchini mushroom oil & fig balsmic vinager w/fresh herbs. We toped it all off with a nice glass of wine. A wonderful sunday meal that wore me out.. LOL Thanks for the wonderful recipes girls.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chic Chef Roster

Greetings Chic Chefs! We have had a few suggestions for inviting more people to attend. I think we don't want to get much bigger, I am afraid it will become too impersonal. Originally we thought 8-9 sounded like a good number. I think we have hit that. I would love for everyone to invite their friends and family to visit our blog to participate and comment. How fun for us to become internationally well known!

This Weeks Recipe: Chicken Marsala

I may have confused everybody by posting the crock pot recipes. I actually didn't mean for these to be my chosen recipes for the week but if you have already bought the ingredients please don't feel like you have to switch now. Go ahead and make whatever you were going to make! I posted these recipes because a couple of the other chic chefs asked me to give ideas for crock pots. My mistake, I should have been more clear.
So, that being said... Here is my recipe. I chose one that I have never made before because I really thought this sounded good.

Chicken Marsala

1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (2 lb total)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry Marsala wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 200°F.

Bring broth to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat, then boil, uncovered, until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes.

Cook shallot in 3 tablespoons butter in an 8- to 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until shallot begins to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, 1 teaspoon sage, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Put flour in a wide shallow bowl. Gently pound chicken to 1/4 inch thick between 2 sheets of plastic wrap using the flat side of a meat pounder or a rolling pin.
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, 1 piece at a time, shaking off excess. Transfer to sheets of wax paper, arranging chicken in 1 layer.

Heat 1 tablespoon each of oil and butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté half of chicken, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer cooked chicken to a large heatproof platter, arranging in 1 layer, then put platter in oven to keep warm. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and cook remaining chicken in same manner, then transfer to oven, arranging in 1 layer.

Add 1/2 cup wine to skillet and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, about 30 seconds. Add reduced broth, cream, and mushrooms, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons wine and 1/2 teaspoon sage. Serve chicken with sauce over pasta of your choice, I think I will use linguine.

I hope I have chosen well, Happy Cooking!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Got a question for all of you....

Hey Hey Girls...
A few things.. I have to apologize it has been crazy around here and haven't done much cooking the past few weeks so this weekend i'm going to make the curry and the crock pot reciepe. I'm really excited as they both look very yummy. Then its my turn on July 6th to share my reciepe...I came up with it this morning as I was getting ready, I'm really excited about that too. I shared it with David and he thought it sounded like a good one, so i'm good to go. Carrie I also plan on getting a pic to you this weekend too.
Now girls I have a question for all of you... I was wondering if ya'll minded if I invited a special friend of mine. A few of you know of him.. His name is David and he is a Certified Executive Chef who is serving in the Army as an Enlisted Aid to a Three Star General. Basically in civilian terms he is a personal chef and assistant to this General. He has been cooking since he was 14 years old and has a vast amount of culinary knowlege and is very very skilled at what he does. He has gotten to cook for so many different kinds of people from all walks of life from your average joe to high up officials. I was telling him about our blog and he thought it sounded pretty cool and would love to be a part of it. So I thought I would write and ask you girls what you think??
Have a great day... Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Save the Curry

Hey Gals! I had to save this recipe for when I get to California as I didn't want to buy all the stuff and then have to throw all the left-overs away. But listening to what you all have to say, I am thinking I may have to make it like the second night we get there! Listening to all the rave reviews is making me seriously crave tofu curry!!! Have fun in the next week or so, we are off to California (eventually).

One of my favorite cooking blogs

I found this cooking blog via a suggestion from something or someone....I honestly can't remember but I've really enjoyed it. Its called Pioneer Woman and is not only recipes but also the life of a family on a working cattle/horse ranch. It's funny and the food has always been yummy (the crash potatoes from June were soooo good with our Father's Day steaks). Anyway just wanted to share in case anyone has time to waste oh I mean has a culinary interest in another blog. Her's is very very popular with tons of readers and comments. Here is the site


We loved the curry. There was one BIG problem though. Not enough leftovers! I may have to make this again soon because I have been wanting it eversince. I did double the sauce as you suggested and I'm glad I did. My husband is not into tofu so I used chicken. I can't wait to add some bell pepper, bamboo shoots and more vegetables next time, potatoes would be good in this, and also experiment with red and yellow curry. I really love thai food and haven't had it recently (living in Walla Walla) so this made me crave it! Thanks Stacy!

Busy week leads to no tofu =(

So I'm thinking that i will go over and help Carrie out when she takes another stab at it!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yummm - Crispy Tofu

I made this recipe while gabbing with some girlfriends and drinking wine, and it still came out great! I thought it was really easy to prepare and I loved the crispy tofu. For some reason I normally just kind of toss in the tofu at the end and warm it up, but it was much better crispy. We had it with rice and spicy green beans and it was delicious! Our dinner guests gave it two thumbs up as well - so thank you Stacita! Can I just say again, this is so fun!

Thai Curry needs a Take Two

So I was really excited to try this as I have never used tofu expect in smoothies. Once I'd checked out the ingredient list the only thing I needed was the curry paste. My Mom had just bought some so she put it in a little tupperware container for me. As seen in my pic :)
I assembled all my ingredients and excitedly started cooking. Well little did I know I grabbed the wrong little container out of the fridge and I have no idea what I added to my sauce but it wasn't curry, honestly I'm wondering if it was ketchup! I know that seems ridiculous but I just grabbed the little container from where I thought I'd put it and dumped it in without really looking at it, my Mom had pre-measured it and the girls were hollering at my feet and well who knows what it was but we found the curry paste as we sat down to our meal so I know it wasn't what I put in! Unfortunatley my second problem was I took a tofu cooking tip from online and cooked it much longer then Stacy said thinking I'd like it crispier and the result was a little like rubbery scrambled eggs. All that said once we threw in some of the curry paste onto our plates it still tasted good!! I'm determined to try it again and to actually do the whole thing right and exactly like instructed!!!! Cheers to kitchen blunders!

Question for the masses?

Hey ladies,
I was just wondering if we want our group to grow or not. I have 3 sisters that have all hinted at the idea of doing something like this and may be interested in joining us if that is ok. I haven't invited anyone yet but if no one minds I could. Let me know! No big deal either way.

Crock Pot Queen!!

Ok so I just can't mislead you, I am far from being a crock pot queen. I actually don't know a million crock pot recipes and I can't answer all your lingering crock pot questions, BUT... I really do like the crock pot and I have a few good ones. Sorry I have waited so long to post them. The first one is amazingly good but just don't look at the ingredients as you prepare it! (brown sugar and cola?? healthy.) The second one is nothing radical but it is just a good and sensible roast (Nice for a Sunday dinner, Carrie)

Cola Barbecued Ribs

3 1/2 lb pork spareribs or loin back ribs
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon hickory smoked salt (or I use 1/2 teaspoon salt and a couple cloves of minced garlic)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cola
1 1/4 cups barbecue sauce

In small bowl mix brown sugar, hickory smoked salt and pepper; rub mixture onto ribs. Cut ribs into 2- or 3-rib portions (I buy the ones already cut) Place ribs into cooker and pour cola over ribs. Cook on low heat setting for 8 to 9 hours. Remove ribs from cooker and place in shallow baking pan. Drain liquid from cooker and discard. Brush both sides of ribs with barbecue sauce. Return ribs to cooker. Pour any remaining barbecue sauce over ribs. Cover and cook on low setting about 1 hour longer or until ribs are glazed.

Caramelized Onion Pot Roast

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 boneless beef chuck roast (4lbs)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 medium onions, sliced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup beer
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

In skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place onions in cooker, place beef on onions. In medium bowl mix remaining ingredients and pour over beef and onions. Cover and cook over low heat 8 to 10 hours.

How can you not love Tofu after this????

What a great recipe! I have made curries before but this one was the simplest yet! I love it! I didn't deviate much from the recipe since I was trying to compare it to other recipes I have tried. I did cook the tofu longer since I tend to like it on the "crunchier" side with curries so I did about 10 minutes on each side. I also added some stir-fry veggies after the tofu was about done and before adding the sauce. Let them cook a few minutes and then added the sauce. I really enjoyed this! My only problem was that I reverted back to my typical style towards the end and didn't measure the lime juice so I think I got a little much. That's typical me and no fault of the recipe! It was still fab and I can't wait to make it again! I even have a picture of it but since I'm not on my own computer I don't want to download the pics yet. But I will get it on here asap!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tried the Tofu Curry

Yum, yum, yum, yum, yuuuuuuuuum! I really love Thai curry and this did not let me down. Thanks, Stacita! I cooked it according to the recipe with just one adjustment. I used Thai fish sauce instead of soy sauce. I had some on hand, and I had previously read the following (on a Thai cooking website) :
Fish sauce is one of the oldest ingredients in the world. Soy sauce was invented as a way to create a cheaper alternative to fish sauce thousands of years ago in China. Fish sauce is essential to Thai food. Make sure you buy a Thai brand as other (mostly Vietnamese) brands taste very different.
Interesting, huh? For those of you who are scared of fishy-ness, I find that fish sauce, despite its name, does not add a fishy taste, but an interesting salty taste. I used only 1 Tsbp of fish sauce in place of the 2 Tbsp soy sauce because I find it much saltier.
One other thing. Although the recipe is clear, somehow I got it into my brain that the tofu would be cubed. It was only after I had cubed it that I realized that it was wrong. I guess that wouldn't make much of a difference, though, right? Duh! Also, my sauce didn't reduce into a glaze. I love it how it turned out, so I wasn't disappointed, but I wanted to mention it in case anyone wanted to offer feedback.
I am so happy that my husband is out of town so I don't have to share! ahahaha! It's going to be great as a leftover and I plan on eating again for every meal until it's gone. Once again, thanks Stacy!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tonight's dinner.

Dinner was so pretty tonight that I had to post a picture. Our friend Meade shot this elk and brought us meat (I feel much better eating meat that has lived a happy outdoor life!). I made a yummy pan sauce with some leftover red wine, broth, and farmer's market green onions. The salad is fresh from my garden. Then I roasted sweet potato and onions and made a balsamic reduction sauce. It was all really yummy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Allow Me to Introduce Myself . . .

Hi girls! I am Rachel and Eva’s sister. I really enjoy cooking (most of the time), and I’m looking forward to trying out the recipes. I think I’ll be a little late trying out the tofu curry. But I am going to try it. Maybe tonight . . .

I am trying to think of the “regulars” that we have at my house . . . Two problems: (1) My husband travels so I cook differently when he is home. (2) I always like to make new things so I don’t make a lot of things over again (or I go on kicks of some type of food and then after a few weeks it’s never to been seen again).
I live near Italy and the food products that are easiest to get here are Italian so that is the style I cook most often. I cook Thai a lot and some Middle Eastern/Greek stuff, as well.

This is some fresh tuna we bought at the fish market recently (just to make my post a little nicer to look at). The fish market is set up right in the bay where are all the little fishing boats moor. We bought it from a woman who's husband had just brought them in . . . less than an hour before. Yum. It was so good!

I think this is a great idea, and I’m so glad to be a part of it. Thanks!

P.S. For all those girls who have port left over . . . it pairs well with chocolate. Mmm . . . Have a little after dinner tonight.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chic Chef #9!

Hey Ladies!
I would like to introduce a new Chic Chef! My sister Alyssa would like to join our club! Welcome Alyssa!

Monday, June 9, 2008

I have never had tofu!

So i know i'm late on this but welcome to my life! I made the pork dish on Friday and EVERYONE loved it. You know something is good when you have no leftovers!

So about the tofu....i have never had tofu before ever! So i'm really excited to make this!I don't think i will tell Nathan about it since he is more a meat and potatoe boy, but I will keep a chicken breast in the fridge ready to go just in case!

Love the Blog!

Gals! I am loving how this blog is shaping up! I am so glad that everyone is participating and seeming to have fun with this! I am going to be hit and miss for a few weeks. We are wrapping up our time here in Miss. and will be leaving in about a week and a half. Our trip to Calif will take us about a week. We have decided to drive just a few hours (5-7 hours) each day and stop along the way to see friends and family. Then I don't know what our immediate internet situation will be at Travis AFB, we are staying on base in temporary housing. So, have fun, I'll drop in when I have time and an internet connection!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pictures of all you Beautiful Chic Chefs

Hey girls I'd like you to all send me a kitchen/cooking type of picture of you to put up on the blog. Thanks!

Catching up

Just wanted to catch up on the blog! I have had a really busy but fun week so I haven't been able to check on the rest of you Chic Chefs! As I mentioned before I live in Walla Walla Washington which has become quite the wine country! It is really fun to learn a lot more about the grapes and the process in building a good wine. I got an opportunity to help a local (and in the top three for the best wineries around) winery with their bottling this week. It was very interesting. I thought that you all might think so, too. There were about 12 people involved and it was like a factory assembly line. One person puts the empty bottles on the convayer belt, then after the machine fills the bottle, adds oxygen to the top and corks it, two people are waiting on the other side to put the little tin foil on the top. Then the machine seals the foil, puts the lable on and two more people are waiting to drop the finished bottles into the cases and sends the case down to be stamped, labled, and stacked on pallets awaiting their shipping to stores and restaurants! The best part is that I got to chat with the winemaker all day and get paid in wine!!!! The winery is called L'Ecole No 41 check out their web site,
Anyway... my week day meals depend a lot on the season and I also like to try new recipes often, but here is a sample:

Chicken and sauteed vegetables (with different seasonings each time)
Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Beef or chicken enchiladas
A crock pot recipe ( I love the crock pot)
Nachos (tortilla chips, cheese, refried beans,chicken or beef, lots of fresh vegetables and salsa)
Soup in the winter

The "house salad" in my kitchen is organic baby greens, shredded carrot and sunflower seeds with your choice of dressing and sometimes crumbled feta cheese. It's simple but really yummy.

Stacy- I am really looking forward to making the curry! Have a great week everybody!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Little Chef

I baked bread this morning. As I was kneading it, I broke off a chunk for Juan and it kept him busy for over 1/2 hour!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pan Seared Tofu with Thai Red Curry Sauce

Alright ladies, here it is! I decided to go with a recipe I already know, though next time I may pick one I've been meaning to try. I may really annoy some of you with my open-ended cooking style, obvious within all the parentheses. :) I like to be flexible, and usually view recipes as an outline rather than something to be followed exactly.
A few notes first: The Thai Red Curry Paste is easy to find. I even bought it in South Dakota (not a gourmet mecca). I buy the Thai Kitchen red curry paste found in most Asian sections and in all Asian grocery stores. Also, if you (or those you're feeding) really don't want tofu, I bet this would be delicious with chicken or shrimp. I serve this with edamame as a starter and a big green salad or veggies on the side. Edamame is found in the frozen veggie section . I boil it in the pods for about 3-5 minutes, drain, rinse with cold water and toss with some course kosher salt. Yum. Don't eat the pods. I only say this, because I had a friend who did and obviously hated edamame! :)
1/2 C unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 C veg. broth
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs fresh lime
1-2 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste (start with 1 tsp and add more as needed. We like it spicy, so sometimes I end up adding a lot more!)
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbs roasted peanut oil (I use whatever I have)
1 lb. extra-firm or firm tofu, cut crosswise into eight ½ inch thick slabs and blotted dry between several layers of paper towels or a cloth kitchen towel (I put a weight such as a pan on top)
1/4 C chopped salted peanuts (my kids like more)
cup fresh cilantro leaves (we use more)

Combine the coconut milk, broth, soy sauce, lime juice, curry paste, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a lrge nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add tofu and cook until golden brown, 6-7 minutes. Turn the tofu and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 5 minutes.

Add coconut milk mixture to the pan and simmer, turning the tofu once, until the liquid reduces to a thick syrup and the tofu is glazed, about 2 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and peanuts.

We love this on rice or as a side dish for sauteed veggies. Sometimes I double the sauce, so there's more for the rice and I have been known to add red pepper and green onion. Let me know if you have questions!

Tofu sounds great!

I think you should go for it whether people like it or not! We all agreed to try new recipes and tofu is a great addition to any menu! Can't wait to see what you are cooking up for us!

P.S. - I love tofu!

Weekday Fare

Jeremy and I similarly repeat the same meals, tossing in a new one here or there. I most enjoy cooking when I can try a new recipe, but sometimes there isn't the time to find one and shop for ingredients. Our standard fare is:

chicken or ground turkey burritos
tofu stirfry
baked salmon or halibut w/roasted asparagus and potatoes
ravioli tossed in pesto with side salad
entree salad such as ceasar salad with smoked salmon and cold rotini pasta (my fave)
bbq chicken sandwiches with sweet potato fries
yellow curry
shishkebabs (during summer)

We often have the typical Italian/Mexican food dishes, but I try to variate them from week to week so it's not overly repetitive. Of course, sometimes, you just need to eat!

up for tofu

Hi there Girls...
I first have to apologize that I did not make the pork T. Although it looked very good. I don't eat a lot of pork so I don't cook it much, but more than that this time I just didn't have anyone to cook it for and found myself occupied with other things and not home much the past couple of weeks. I know.. still not a good enough excuse. :) To answer your question Stacy... lets try out a tofu reciepe that sounds great. I remember the baked tofu u and i made.. mmm yummy. I think we made pitas with it didn't we? hope u all are having a great week.

Question from your current menu planner . . .

Tofu is a real staple in our house. I just want to know if people are up for that? Let me know as I plan. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cahill family meals

Since I have been cooking for myself for about a year my typical week meals go like this......
coffee, and scones
raw veggies, crackers and hummus
coffee and muffins
pasta of some kind- plain with parmesan or spaghetti go over best with Katrina
frozen pizza
coffee and cake
some kind of soup

I got in a rut of nibbling, not eating or waiting until Kat was asleep to eat and being so tired that nothing was being cooked much.
Although in the days of yore when I actually cooked for a family I did alot of

roast chicken and rice
soups and homemade bread
meat and potatoes
katsu chicken and fried rice
grilled fish/ shrimp
casseroles of all kinds (what can I say you can take the girl out of Minnesota but...)

I tend to try new recipes often especially when I have someone/ anyone to cook for....
Dinner anyone???

Kudos to Rachel!!!!

This recipe was so much fun! I made it Sunday night because 1. I had someone other than myself and my 15 month old to eat it and 2. I had to prep a dinner, go to the airport and return home to feed a slightly hung-over (or so I wrongly assumed) sister returning from vegas quickly so she could go to sleep before working early Monday am.

So, let's see I actually did use the port wine in the tenderloin and surprisingly didn't mess with the recipe at all. I tend to doctor every recipe and never measure when I cook. But, to be good I measured everything and followed it to the letter! It turned out great! My sister and I loved it! Katrina really liked the sauce and thought the orzo was fun to smear on her face so that is a good sign right? For the orzo I did change that recipe. I did all the cooking the same as Rachel said but, at the end I substituted some halved cherry tomatoes, and basil for the lemon juice and dill. I used spinach and zucchini and it was fabulous! I think the dill and lemon would be great but I chose to buy the port rather than dill and a lemon so there it is!

We decided this is a definite do over and my sisters roommate also loved the leftovers!

As for ideas on the left over port one thing I have done often is....
using chicken, turkey or pork cutlets I dredge them in flour with salt and pepper, and saute them in a bit of olive oil. When they are done I remove them and make a pan sauce. For the sauce you pour appx. 1/2 c. port wine into the pan and deglaze it. I usually let it cook down just for a minute or two and then add 2 T dried cherries, 2 tsp seedless rasp. jam and let them cook for a couple minutes. Right before I serve it I add about 1 T of butter. Pour sauce over meat and serve!

Hope that give you all an idea on how to use some more of the wine. Little by little our bottles will be gone! By the way, I have substituted everything in that recipe so have fun with it!

Meal Plan Ideas

So I'm assuming we all as families or individuals have a set of meals that we recycle least that's how it is at our house over the course of a week there are maybe 2 new meals out of the 7 and that's if we are feeling both adventurous and taken the time to find recipes! So I'm looking to expand our stand by meals and wondering if everyone would be willing to share what their families are.

Here are some of ours

Stir fry (in various forms)
Spaghetti (also in various forms)
Chicken with a side of rice or couscous and a veggie
Soup and Sandwiches
Home made pizza
A Roast of sorts

Usually several of these in some form are in our menu for the week.....and I'm getting burnt out a little and wanting new ideas!

So chic chefs lay some ideas on me!

Gourmet in the Trenches!

I finally got a chance to make the tenderloin, but it took some commitment! I had company all weekend and they wanted take-out (totally fine with me!). So, last night was my chance and, darn-it, I was going to make it happen. I went for a run, so I was sweaty and in my running clothes, but Brant had to leave soon so I didn't have time to get cleaned up. Noah's Tae Kwon Do uniform (he had Tae Kwon Do in 1/2 hour) was in the dryer in another building of our apartment complex so I was running back and forth checking it in my running clothes and apron. At the last minute, Brant invited his friend Joel for dinner, so the pressure was on! In the midst of the chaos, I managed to make it and it was beautiful. I didn't make the orzo as I had forgotten to buy a few ingredients so I paired it with roastie potatoes and sauteed green beans. I also used wine instead of port because I had a quarter of a bottle on my fridge waiting for such an occasion. In my hurry I didn't cook the onion long enough, but other than that, it was great. The kids loved it too. Thanks, Rachel!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tantalizing Tenderloin

I had invited some friends over for dinner on Saturday night and usually that means I am pouring over cookbooks and browsing recipes on at length to find the perfect main course and side dishes for dinner, but this week - Rachel figured it out for me! I prefaced the dinner by telling everyone about our new cooking club, which they were very interested in. Everyone loved the meal, particularly the pork. One of our dinner guests even left with the recipe in hand so he could try it himself. Like Carrie, I used red wine in place of port, but I still thought the sauce had great flavor. I also rubbed the pork with olive oil, salt and pepper before baking. I had to add quite a bit more broth to the orzo as it wasn't cooking all of the way (I'm a novice at orzo), but it turned out great in the end. Next time I would add a little more lemon and maybe even some lemon zest just to give it some more punch. All in all we loved the meal: it was colorful, tasty and unique. (Can you tell I dream of being a food critic?) Thanks Rachel!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Port Anyone??

Wwweeellll... I don't really know what to say. I submitted this recipe because it was one I have made for my family about three times before. We loved it this time as much as the first few. I LOVE the caramelized onions, in fact I usually make a bit more than the recipe calls for. I love the broth of the sauce also. Andy bought the smallest bottle of port he could find but it still was way more than 1/4 cup. We tried to sip it with dinner but port is just not intended for that. Too sweet, too thick for my taste. So now I am left with a bottle of port and only two weeks left in Miss. What shall I do with the port? Oh, I almost forgot, for some reason that I don't remember right now, I didn't use tenderloin this time - I used pork chops. Andy said he liked it just as well but I didn't. I love tenderloin and to me there is no comparison. I have been wanting to tell a little secret about this recipe and am proud of myself for keeping it until now... This recipe is from Weight Watchers! So any of you ladies interested in the WW info on it, let me know. That is how I discovered this recipe and have made it whether I was watching what I was eating or not.

Now, for the orzo. This also is a recipe that my family has enjoyed for a few years. However, due to my current make-shift-life I didn't use orzo, I used rice. It was good but DEFINITELY not the same. I added broccoli and green beans to ours (Abigail is on a green bean kick). All in all, it was a good meal. I can't wait to try out everyone else's chosen recipes!

My first experience with Tenderloin

So I'll start out with what I did different.......
I totally forgot to buy the port wine so in the middle of getting things cooking I realized I didn't have it and instead used a Merlot. I'm not a huge fan of a lot of onions so I think I halved the amount of onions, so instead of Blueberry Onion sauce it was more like Blueberry Tomato sauce (Yum!). The orzo I used was some that we got from the farmer's market and was lemon flavored so I didn't use chicken broth knowing the lemon would have enough flavor on its own, I added zucchini and peppers to it. It all looked so pretty when we plated it and we were excited to dig in.
The pork and sauce were a hit with Jonathan and I, the girls not so much but they are really picky about meat. Sadly the orzo didn't work well with the main dish the way I made it, the competing flavors (the lemon vs the blueberries) were too strong and though it sounds like they would go well the didn't. But we will definitely make the tenderloin again and will try the orzo this time exactly how Rachel instructed. :)

Recipe = Thumbs up!

Loved It!

I have a feeling my husband is going to be the #1 fan of Chic Chefs...on a budget. Why, you ask? Because I think after six years of marraige to me he just might be a little tired of my creative genius in the kitchen. In other words, it's going to be nice to try things from other gals's kitchens once in a while!

Ok! The pork tenderloin with blueberries and onions recipe was a hit! I have never really made pork tenderloin very much before and always passed it by in the meat section. NOT ANYMORE! It was a pretty easy recipe and very yummy! I stuck to the original recipe, except I used butter instead of margerine (not going to make much of a difference I guess) I got the port at Safeway for pretty inexpensive, it was $5.49 so that was good except I think we are going to have to try some more recipes that call for port because now I have a huge bottle! Too bad all the Chic Chefs couldn't share one bottle for this recipe! By the way if you go to you can put in an ingredient and it will give you recipes that call for that ingredient, kinda helpful. We also liked the orzo dish and I thought that it was great because you could really go crazy with this and make it into a lot of different things including a main dish by adding chicken, beef, shrimp etc. I just added peas and zucchini but here is my suggestion: sautee the vegi's and set them aside, when orzo is done cooking add them. Mine got kind of mushy eeewww! I guess it depends on what vegi's you use.

I am having fun with this! I can't wait for the next recipe!

Here We Go!

Alright! So let's talk about the recipes. What did everyone think? What was right? What was wrong? Whatever you have to comment - let's hear it!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cooking Enthusiasts!

Lovely Ladies! My wonderful husband treated me to a night out on saturday evening and one of the places he took me was for dessert at Emeril's on the Gulf Coast! I thought since we are all cooking enthusiasts (even if we don't know much about Emeril) I would post a couple pics I took of the restaurant. I took them with my phone so they aren't great quality.

This is Great!

Hi there Girls..
this is great. I love blog idea. I'm ready to get cooking :)
Hope you all have a great weekend.