Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me

Tomorrow is the first day back at school.  And since summer is nearing its end, I felt the need to grill again.  While I'm ready for the cool temps and the sweaters and boots, I am not ready to give up my summer produce.  My husband requested a peachy barbecue sauce.  It seemed like the perfect fit!

So I went on the internet and searched and searched and came across this little beauty on Epicurious.  It looked like the perfect blend of sweet peachiness and tanginess.

So I got my peaches and I scored them for blanching, I diced onions and jalapeno.

And I got the other ingredients out.  Now, I was out of brown sugar, so I made some by mixing white sugar with molasses.  You can do it!  Try it today!  It's fuuuuuun.

Once the water was boiling, I dropped the peaches in for a few minutes.  Then I readied an ice bath.  Because it was HOT outside and I had the vapors!  

Gotcha!  It's because that's how you blanch peaches!  Once boiled for a few, drop them babies in your ice bath.

What you are looking for is for the skin to peel back from the score marks like this:

Once the peaches have cooled, peel them and seed them and chop them coursely.  It will look like this:

Saute your onions and jalapeno in some oil.  Add salt.

Yay!  This smells amazing.  But don't stop now... add the peaches.

Stir it around and let it simmer for about three minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Stir this up and let it simmer for 30 minutes, covered.  

Remember to stir it every now and then.  If you're like me, eat some saltines while you stare out the window.  Then chug Diet Coke because saltines are real dang dry!  Stir the pot.  Repeat.  It's the simple things in life that cause me the most consternation.

When it's done simmering, it will looks yummy.

Now, I tasted and added 1 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp honey for sweetness and 1 tsp adobo sauce for spiciness and smokiness and a dash of black pepper for more spice!  I like the sweet, smoky, tangy, spicy thing.

Let this cool.  Do not put hot things in blenders or food processors.  If you do... then no, I will NOT come clean up your kitchen!  And don't you dare hire someone to do it, because you made that mess all on your own and now you'll clean it all on your own!

Ahem.  Life lessons.

Once cooled, put it in a blender or food processor.

Blend or pulse until smooth.

It will sort of look like canned pumpkin... but it won't taste like it!

Now it is ready to use.  I personally pounded some boneless skinless chicken breasts and put a few tablespoons over them while I heated the grill.  Then I served more on the side.

Oh baby.  Yes yes yes.  You are yummy.

Now, the sauce is good, but my husband did not love the consistency.  I didn't mind it, but I saw his point.

Here it is, in all it's glory:

Peach Barbeque Sauce
adapted from Epicurious, Gourmet

  • 1 pound fresh peaches

  • 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeño without seeds

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup bourbon (or whiskey, if that's what you have)

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons mild honey

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 3/4 teaspoon light brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 tsp adobo sauce

  • dash of pepper to taste

  • Cut an X in bottom of each peach, then blanch in a medium saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water and cool. Peel peaches and coarsely chop.

    Cook onion, jalapeño, and a pinch of kosher salt in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutesutes. Add peaches and remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peaches are very tender, about 30 minutes.

    Purée in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids).

    Cooks' note: Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, uncovered, until cool, then covered.

    Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Peach-Barbecue-Sauce-238919#ixzz0xZa06aLE

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Have I Mentioned How Much I Love my iPhone?

    Since I'll be in school full-time, I'll have more time for fitness.  Kendall and I have noticed that the Maple-rator could use a little more exercise to use up some of her extra energy, so running is a natural fit.  Plus, I love running and I've really missed it.

    And oh, how I love my iPhone.  It rings when people call, I can check my e-mail and Twitter and Facebook, and I can check the weather and take pictures of my doggies.  And then I can download lots and lots of apps.   So when I decided to get back into running, I figured there must be an app that uses the GPS function on my iPhone to map my run and calculate the distance.  And it needed to be free.

    Found one!  RunKeeper has a free app that allows you to enter your activity (running, walking, biking, etc) and then hit start.  It keeps your time and distance.  At the end of your workout, it gives you your distance and time with your miles per hour, and average number of minutes it would take you travel a mile and a handy-dandy little chart of when you were at your energy peak and low.

    And with one quick flick, you can also get a map with where you ran!  It's all free and you can get it at RunKeeper or iTunes App store.

    A few tips:
    Turn on your music before entering the app.  Your tunes will still play and then you can start mapping and timing your run.  But if you start your RunKeeper and then try to access your playlists, it will pause your workout.  Not the end of the world, but if you expect it to keep running and tracking you, you will be at a loss when you finish.

    It will also save any of your work-outs so you can have a history.  You can add little notes about pre-work-out eats, weather that day, how much of it was uphill, etc.

    So if you are working out off the treadmill or machine, I highly recommend this app.  Hope it works for you!

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Tightening the Belt... without Sacrifice

    I can't believe it's my last week at work!  I'll be starting school full-time next week, and that means we'll be a one income household.  Sure, I have some things on the horizon, but for the time being, we've got to economize, baby!  It's all about tightening our belt or wallet without giving up good taste and good nutrition.

    In preparation for these big changes, we've taken a few steps to pare down.  For one, we've set a budget for our grocery bill and to help us stick to it, we've switched to paying cash.  It's hard to hand over dollar bills rather than swiping a card.  And while I shop, I keep a running tab on a calculator.  That really keeps things in check.  By the end of the trip, I know if I have the money to splurge a little or not.

    As always, make a menu before you go and make your grocery list from there.  Look at the week's ad at your local grocer or two and use the sale items to build your menu.  Chicken on sale?  Can you get 5 lbs of potatoes for a song?  Consult your cookbooks and recipe sources online to help come up with tasty meals using sale items.  And don't be ashamed to clip coupons, but be careful!  Only cut out ones for items you USE on a regular basis.  Take them to the store, but compare prices.  Sometimes coupons don't guarantee the best deal.  Calculators are your best friend in the grocery store!

    I know this can sound really restrictive and boring, but don't resort to plain stand-by recipes.  You will get tired and burnt out and then you will blow it.  Like dieting, don't do anything crazy and cut out carbs or fat or sugar, because you will end up surrounded by burgers, fries, fried rice, and ice cream.  Look for new ideas and recipes to try.  Branch out to new cuisines.  Keep it interesting!

    It's true, cheap food is not always healthy food, but shop for whole, raw ingredients!  You can get great deals on fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta in bulk (it goes on sale too!), dried beans, eggs, milk, and other proteins.

    What tricks do you use to keep your grocery bill low?

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Tantalizing Tandoori Chicken

    ...or "The Best Chicken You've Ever Made," as my husband proclaimed as he bit into his dinner.

    I've never tried an Indian dish, but after watching "The Mistress of Spices" and "Dhoom 2," I was inspired.  So I pulled up a few Tandoori Chicken recipes and then stuck with Eating Well's Tandoori Chicken, with a few twists of my own.

    First, you need to make the marinade.  Start by measuring out your spices.  I decided to grind up my cumin.  By "grind," I mean "crush slightly."

    If you have the means and the drive, invest in a mortar in pestle.  This simple little beauty cost about $5.  Taking the spice seeds or pods and smushing them yourself unlocks a fresh, bright flavor.  So worth the elbow grease.

    Go ahead and throw them in a bowl.  Look at how beautiful these spices are!

    Keep on adding.  You'll be so thankful.

    Now, I added some tumeric and curry powder to my recipe.  What's so great about this marinade is that you can throw lots of different spices in there.  Experiment!

    Okay, now, next... add your plain yogurt and stir it well.  It will look like this:

    Add this to the chicken.  I put my chicken in a large zip-top bag and poured the marinade in.  Then I distributed it around.  Put it in the fridge for about 5 hours.  Stir or redistribute the marinade around the chicken a few times.  This, the time and the stirring, is KEY to your success.

    In the meantime, grab a cuke and slice it up.

    Then dice it!

    Cooking is fun.  Now, here's a little trick.  Put some cilantro in a cup.  If you are one of those people who hates cilantro, you can use mint or even parsley.  This is going to become a raita, which is a cool compliment to your spicy chicken, so you can use whatever you like that sounds cooling.

    Take your kitchen shears and chop it up in the cup.  You'll be left with this...

    Chopped herbs!  You can use this with basil or parsley and get a really nice fine chop that is hard to get on a chopping board sometimes.  And it's more fun this way.  And it's a great job for kiddos that doesn't involve a sharp knife.  Everybody wins!

    Add the cilantro/mint/parsley to the cucumber, and then put in 1-2 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Then add a few dollops of plain yogurt.

    Viola!  Adjust to your taste.  Let this sit in the fridge for at least an hour.  It gets so yummy.  Again, experiment.  I put in a few cumin seeds.  Do what moves you.

    Now, pull your chicken out of the fridge and put it in an ovenproof dish.

    Preheat your oven to 500* F.  It's hot.  But that's part of the magic!  The hot oven is meant to mimic a clay oven or pot.  So, get on with your life and pop it in for about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, made some rice or warm up some naan or roast some veggies or make a salad.  Whatever you want.  I went for some rice.  And I poured some wine!  It's a recipe for deliciousness.

    So you get some seriously delicious chicken.  It's so moist!  I made it with chicken breasts.  I think the combination of marinading in yogurt for hours and then putting it in the oven at a high heat for a shorter period of time is what makes this so juicy and tasty.

    Whatever the deal, this dish is pure magic.  If I were to do it again, I'd make basmati or jasmine rice, or better yet, coconut rice.  And I'd include naan.  And maybe some lime in my water?  And some lovely, cold fresh fruit on the side.  But as is, this is an easy and inexpensive meal that tastes amazing.

    Until next time... eat well, my friends!

    Thursday, August 12, 2010


    So much has happened since I last posted.  I have lots of BIG NEWS!

    For starters, in July, I became an aunt again.  My brother and sister-in-law had a beautiful baby girl.  She's the picture of perfection and everyone in the family is quite in love with her.  There has been much "ooh"-ing and "aah"-ing and snuggling going on with the little bundle of joy.  She has a thick head of hair, long fingers, and little sausages for legs and arms.

    Later in July, Kendall and I added a new addition to our family as well.  We adopted another dog!  We found Daisy at our local shelter and after introducing her to Maple, we adopted her.  She's a Cairn Terrier mix, and is so sweet and loving.  Daisy and Maple are now real sisters, exploring together.

    In other big news, I will be starting my Masters in about two weeks, and am so excited!  Unfortunately, I will have to stop working at my current job; I needed a more flexible schedule and they weren't able to fit it in.  So I will be a full-time student.  I hope this means I can blog more, but will also be writing for Austin's Examiner.com on pet rescue in the Austin area.  Exciting, no?  There are a few other plans in the works, but more on that later.

    In the midst of all this, I've been cooking and eating.  And I will continue to do so!  I'll be posting back here soon with some great recipes and ideas.

    Until then...Keep eating!