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Archive for January, 2010

Hello All,

Welcome back to Food  Flavor Fun.  A place to pick up great food ideas that are full of flavor and a source a of a lot of fun in the kitchen and enjoyment and love to be shared with friends and family.  I missed my Friday blog post so this one is a catch up.  Fridays are all about desserts.  This is one of my absolute favorites.  This is a great peach cobbler recipe.  I don’t even remember where it came from.  If I have to guess, it was from one of Emeril Lagasse’s shows where Aretha Franklin was a guest.  It sounded so good I had to try it.  And man, it was!  This one will kill your diet!  If your watching your calories, you’ll have a few to make up tomorrow.  Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream when you get the ingredients. It is a must!  Enjoy!

Aretha Franklin’s Reach Cobbler

Ingredients:

  • 10 (8 1/2 oz.) cans sliced peaches, drained
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, divide 1 stick into small pieces
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 store-bought refrigerated pie doughs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pam non-stick spray
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream – yeah, like I ever buy just a pint!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saucepan, add peaches. 1 stick butter, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bring to a simmer.  Add bread crumbs and stir.  Let simmer just a minute longer and remove from heat.  Using a sprinkle of flour, roll out the pie crusts.  One will be used for the bottom, the other for the top.

Spray a 10-inch square pan with Pam and place 1 layer of dough into the baking dish. Place a few chips of butter as well as a dusting of the remaining sugar on the bottom crust.  Pour the peach mixture into the baking dish.  Cut the top layer of dough into strips and arrange them on top of the peaches in a lattice-work pattern.  Top with the remaining butter chips and a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown and the peaches are bubbling.  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Categories : Drinks and Desserts
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Welcome back to Food Flavor Fun.  A place to find food for real people with great flavor.  Make it for someone you love tonight and ignite the fires of fun.

Thursdays are all about main dishes.  I fixed this one last night.  I’ve always enjoyed this dish at restaurants.  I never knew that it was so easy to make at home.  Hi highly recommend this one.  It’s easy, has lots of flavor, not a lot of prep time and the cooking time is short as well.  Enjoy!

Chicken Marsala over Spaghetti Bordelaise

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (yeah, that pepper mill again!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • handful of baby carrots julliened
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  •  2 cups fresh mushrooms
  • 3 teaspoons flour
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry, season each side of the chicken with salt,  pepper and cayenne.  Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken and cook through, about 3 minutes each side.  Transfer chicken to a plate of platter and keep warm.

Add julliene carrots and garlic to the skillet.  Sit fry the veggies until soft.  Add the mushrooms to the skillet.  Stir frequently until browned.  If the mushrooms are a bit dry, add a little more olive oil.  Sprinkle the mushrooms with the flour, stirring to blend.  Add the wine and the broth, bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.

Spaghetti Bordelaise:

  • 1 pounds dried spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the butter and parsley and cook for 2 minutes.

Return the drained spaghetti to the pot. Add the sauce, to taste, and toss well to coat. Place in a large serving bowl and coat with the Parmesan.

To Serve, place a serving of the spaghetti in the center of the plate, place a chicken breast on top of the spaghetti and spoon a good helping of the sauce and mushrooms over all.  Sprinkle with some fresh parmesan cheese.  Dig in!

Enjoy!

Categories : Main Courses
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Hello all and welcome back to Food Flavor Fun!

A simple guy from Southeast Texas with a taste for great flavor and a desire to share that passion with others.

Wednesday is all about soups and salads.  Tonight is a salad that I used for my last Valentines Day Menu.  We didn’t go out to a restaurant.  Oh No!  I fixed a five course meal at home.  Ok, thats sick.

My wife loved the whole deal (and she better for the work that went in).  But this salad was easy and a good starter with little effort.  If your going after a big play.  Take the short cuts where you can!  It takes a bunch of work to create a meal that will be consumed in less than 20-30 minutes!

I used the bagged fancy leafy salad in prepped bags with Granny Smith apple slices, walnuts and a bottled raspberry vinaigrette.  Oh, almost forgot the broken up blue cheese over the salad.  A great touch of flavor and texture that makes this salad a big hit.

No need for croutons on this salad as the nuts provide the crunch. 

If the Raspberry vinaigrette is not to your liking, pick another dressing that  you think will go.  But, go lite so the blue cheese, apples and walnuts come though.  Enjoy!

Categories : Soups and Salads
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Jan
13

Nothing like a sharp knife

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Evening all,

I missed my post last night due to dealing with teenagers.  Anyone who’s been there will understand.  As she would say: OMG.  So tonight I will be working two posts to keep up with my plan.

Tuesdays are going to be based on Tools and Techniques.  Tonight, what can be more relative than a good set of knives.  A sharp knife has to be the most important implement of any cook or in any kitchen.  It makes the prep work so much easier.  And with all cooking, the prep work is the majority of the work.

I still have not found my dream set of knives.  However, I have tried a few brands.  Whatever your choice, (and it is a very personal one), they have to be sharp.  I have discovered that the reason we have finger nails is to keep us cooks from taking the tips of our fingers off!

The secret to cutting and chopping is having a sharp knife, holding your hands correctly, and keeping the tip down and touching the cutting board.  The shape of your hands forms a “C” between fingers and thumbs.  Fingers down, tips back and under, away from the edge of the knife.  Many will say that you need to sharpen your blade before each use.  I say to sharpen your blade when your blade gets dull.  Otherwise, you are leaving good knife on the sharpening stone.

I suggest a good three stage sharpener.  I got mine from chefscatalog.com.  It will take the worst blade to a sharp edge in less than 5 minutes.  Mine were and needed the treatment badly!

I have a couple of sets at home now.  A less expensive set from long ago that has stood up very well to the dishwasher, does not hold an edge very well but with my sharpener the wide blade is actually my favorite for dicing and chopping.  I have another set of Chicago Cutlery that are better quality blades and all do a great job.

I continue to watch and seek better feeling knives in my hand and better blades that have to be worked/sharpened less often. 

My theory:  The dollars spent on a good set of knives will outperform and outlast any plug-in tech tool you will ever see and for certain any tool that you will use for as much time in the kitchen.  If you love cooking, find your favorite set of knives.  Enjoy!

Categories : Tools & Techniques
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Jan
11

Cajun’d Chicken Wings

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Cajun'd Buffalo WingsEpisode 1 – Cajun’d Chicken Wings

Listento the podcast here

Welcome back to Food Flavor Fun.

Monday’s are going to be all about great starters others might say appetizers.  I just say starters because I have no problem making them into a meal.  I travel quite a bit with my work and my default meal when I can’t find anything else is buffalo wings and a caesar salad.  I do like spicy wings!

The trick to good hot wings is figuring out a hot wing sauce that you really like.  It took a lot of trial and error for me to find one that has become my personal favorite.  If you really like wings, take this as an opportunity to experiment with different hot sauces to see which one make your mouth happy.

I use a hot sauce call Cajun Chef for both my marinade and hot wing sauce.  Give it a try.  It’s not over the top hot and has a gret flavor.  But thats what works for me.  Your taste may be different.  Think of it as a starting point for a hot wing adventure.

The texture to hot wings vary greatly as well, from a kind of boiled soft wing to a crispy fried wing.  I like the crunch and flavor of the fried wing with the sauce on the side for dipping.  Again, try them different ways and see which one works best for you.  The recipe for what I’ve come up with as my favorite (so far) can be found below.  Enjoy!

Cajun’d Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, cut in half at the joint, rinsed and wiped dry
  • 1/2 cup Cajun Chef hot pepper sauce (half the bottle, use the other half below)
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme

For the hot wing/dipping sauce

  • the rest of the bottle of cajun chef
  • 1/2 stick butter

Directions:

In a large non-reactive bowl (glass works well here) combine the chicken, hot sauce, salt, pepper and toss well to combine and cover.  Cover the chicken with plastic wrap or transfer to a large zip lock bag and put into refrigerator and let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours (more is better).

In a heavy pot, heat the oil to 360 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and the rest of the seasonings.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the flour 1 at a time, tossing to coat evenly.

Add the chicken in a couple of batches to the hot oil and cook turning occasionally until brown on all sides and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove the chicken wings from the oil and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle immediately with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

For the dipping sauce, add the other half  of the bottle of the Cajun Chef to a small sauce pan and add the half a stick of butter, heat on medium low until the butter is melted and stir occasionally until blended. 

Either toss the wings in the sauce or serve it on the side with either chunky blue cheese dressing or your favorite ranch dressing.  A great side for this is celery and carrot sticks.

Enjoy!

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Categories : Podcasts, Starters
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Jan
08

Limeade Can Margaritas

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Welcome back to Fun Flavor Food!  I’m so glad to share with you today.  And its a real TGIF kind of day.  I’m not sure why it is, but the first week after the holidays and back to work really seemed long to me. 

Fridays are a time to really kick up the fun.  So for this first Friday of the blog, I’m going to share a great frozen Margarita with all of my friends out there.  When you make it, please enjoy and raise a glass for me!

Limeade Can Margaritas

Take one 12 oz. can of prepared limeade concentrate and let it thaw enough to get it out of the can or if your in a hurry and need one real bad put the ca in some water for a few minutes.  Dump the concentrate into a blender.  Measure 1 full can of tequila.  Don’t use the very good stuff, thats for shooting.  Add 1/2 can of triple sec or another option is a 1/2 can Gran Marnier.  Tell everybody that’s the top shelf.  Fill the blender to the top with ice and hit the button until its ready to go in a glass.

If you like salt on the rim, take a slice of lime and rub around the rim of your glass and dip into salt.  I use a plastic container lid to hold the salt and it works just fine.  Pour in your Margarita and garnish with your slice of lime.  Cheers!

Categories : Drinks and Desserts
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Welcome back to Food Flavor Fun.

Time for one of my absolute favorites.  Thursdays will feature a main dish.  This one is a great chicken dish that is best served family style.  For the amount of flavor in this dish, the effort is pretty low.   The hardest part is peeling all the garlic that the recipe calls for.  Look in your are to see if you can get packaged peeled garlic pods.  I’m able to find them locally at an asian market and Costco.  The Costco bag is really big, but I use a lot of garlic in my cooking.  Try this one for sure!  And share it with some people you love.  That will bring the fun.  Enjoy!

Italian Chicken with Lemon Garlic and Wine over Spaghetti Bordelaise

Ingredients:

  • 12 chicken thighs
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne
  • 4 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 3 lemons, quartered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Spaghetti Bordelaise, recipe follows

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken in a large bowl and lightly coat with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Crush half of the garlic cloves with the back of a heavy knife. Leave the remaining cloves whole.

Heat 1/2 cup of the oil in a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken in 1 layer, over 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides. Add the crushed garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well to evenly distribute. Cover the pan tightly and roast for 1 hour. Uncover and roast until the chicken is brown and tender, and the garlic is caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Transfer the chicken to a platter and sprinkle with the parsley. Spoon the pan juices over the chicken, or serve on the side.

Spaghetti Bordelaise:

  • 2 pounds dried spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup green onions
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the butter and parsley and cook for 2 minutes.

Return the drained spaghetti to the pot. Add the sauce, to taste, and toss well to coat. Place in a large serving bowl and coat with the Parmesan.

Categories : Main Courses
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Jan
06

Tortilla Soup

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Hello all,

Wednesdays are going to be about Soups and Salads…

The temperature is supposed to drop down into the single digits for the next several days.  I thought this would be a good time to share a hardy, body warming soup with a little spicy kick to it.

I’ve had many styles of tortilla soup.  Many are a clear broth based to-do that I don’t find really satisfying.  This version is one that I prefer with a lot of body and makes a great meal paired with a salad….enjoy!

Tortilla Soup

Ingredients for the stock:

  • 1 4-5 lb. whole chicken, giblets removed and rinsed
  • Salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup medium diced carrots
  • 1 cup medium diced celery
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups water

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 12 prepared corn tortillas
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (yes it’s called a pepper mill…get one)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups chopped fresh peeled Roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the garnish:

  • 1 large avacado, peeled and diced (don’t do this until your ready…they turn black otherwise and will look ugly on top of your soup!)
  • 2 fresh limes cut into quarters
  • a little more chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

For the Stock: Season the chicken with salt. Place in a large stock pot and add the remaining ingredients. Season with a teaspoon of salt. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Remove the chicken and set aside. Strain the liquid into a another pan, discarding the vegetables. Remove the fat and bones from the chicken. Dice the chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

For the Soup: Preheat the fryer. Cut half of the tortillas in quarters and thinly slice the other half. Fry both cuts of tortillas in batches, until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and set aside. In a stock pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf and jalapeno. Continue to saute for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Crush the reserved fried tortilla quarters over the tomatoes. Stir to mix. Stir in the reserved chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes. Using a hand-held blender, puree the soup until smooth or leave chunky. Reseason the soup. Stir in the reserved diced chicken and cilantro. Simmer for another 5 minutes. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with the avocados, squeeze of lime juice, fresh cilantro and the fried tortilla strips. Serve very warm.

Categories : Soups and Salads
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Jan
06

A First Go

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Hello World!

How many times have I written programs to show just that on the screen.

My name is Tom. And I am by profession an Information Technology geek/manager with a large financial services provider.  In my spare time and by necessity, I learned to cook. Why? Because I like to eat! I like food with great flavor. And who does not like to have fun. That’s what brings me to present this blog for your enjoyment, and hopefully to share a love for good food, good friends and good times.

I was born and raised in South East Texas where many cultures and tastes came together. At the threat of aging myself, I watched Justin Wilson on TV making his recipes. I still love his concept on wine….”What kind of wine goes with that?….the kind you like.” It is in that direction that I bring this blog to you. I plan on sharing my experiences and recipes from real life. Some may be less gourmet than others, but its all food and drink that I have prepared myself and are really happy to share with others. I hope that you will tune in and enjoy.

Stay tuned! More flavor to come, certainly centered around food, flavor and including a healthy portion of fun as well. Life should include as much of all three as we can absorb.

Cheers!

Categories : Tools & Techniques
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