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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Recipe Review from 5/21/12

Did everyone have a good Memorial Day weekend?

The Husband and I found ourselves in Park Rapids with my Folks.  We camped there last year and enjoyed it enough to go again.  We brought the bikes with and fit in two rides: 13 miles on Sunday and 23 miles on Monday, both rides on the Heartland Trail (a rails to trails project). 

A couple noteworthy recipes from last week:

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos (Ckng Lght June 2012)

photo from
I simplified this recipe a bit and used rotisserie chicken from a previous dish.  I sauteed the onion and the spices, then added the chicken and beans, cooked until warm, then did "buffet" style for serving.  I liked the flavor of this and ease of prep had this on the table in about 20 minutes.   Nothing fancy, but tasty and quick.

  • 1/2 cup prechopped onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 pound chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced   (skipped 'cause I'm lazy)
  • 2 (10-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 ounce preshredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1/4 cup)

  •   Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • Preparation
    1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl; toss well.

    2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add chicken mixture; cook 8 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring occasionally. Add beans and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until heated, stirring frequently. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top each burrito with 2 tablespoons cheese. Roll up each burrito jelly-roll fashion.

    3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat both sides of burritos evenly with cooking spray. Place burritos in pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Cut burritos in half. Top with pico de gallo and sour cream.

    Kate Parham,
    JUNE 2012

    Korean Beef Tacos  (Ckng Lght June 2012)
    This is a bit of a departure for me in that I rarely eat beef.  And by rarely I mean about once a year if that.  However, I had a small, organically raised, hunk of beef in the freezer that I wanted to use up.  This recipe worked perfectly with one significant modification - I pan seared rather than grilled.  I confess I haven't cleaned my grill yet this spring, it was raining, and I didn't want to futz with skewers.  This turned out very tasty - sweet/sour/hot = yum!  Use less chili paste if you don't like heat.   This fed two people with no leftovers. 

    photo from

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chile paste (such as sambal oelek)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 ounces flank steak, sliced against the grain into thin strips (freeze 1 hour to facilitate slicing)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas  (I used flour tortillas leftover from the chicken burritos)
  • Quick Pickled Cabbage (see below)
  • 3 tablespoons sliced green onions

  • 1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish. Add steak to dish; cover. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning after 30 minutes.

    2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.   (or heat skilled over med-high heat)

    3. Remove steak from marinade, and discard marinade. Thread steak onto 8 (8-inch) skewers; sprinkle with salt. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill Saute 5-7 minutes depending on thickness on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Grill tortillas 30 seconds on each side or until lightly charred; keep warm. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates, and divide steak evenly among tortillas. Divide the Quick Pickled Cabbage evenly among tacos; sprinkle with onions.

    Thursday, May 24, 2012

    Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

    This is May's book group selection. 
    I've read this series out of order (below), but I don't know that it really matters in hindsight. If you are reading them in order (not as listed below) you might get a better feel for how the Culture universe matures.

    April 2000 Excession
    July 2003 Look to Windward
    Jan 2007 The Algebraist
    April 2009 State of the Art
    Feb 2010 Matter
    Nov 2011 Use of Weapons
    Jan 2012 Surface Detail
    May 2012 Consider Phlebas

    While I did bounce off of Surface Detail (see review here), I thought Consider Phlebas was a pretty good - and fast - read. I will note right off the bat that this read a bit like a cross between a space pirate adventure, a space opera, and an action movie with a bit of heavy philosophy thrown in for good measure. Think if you will, on a grandiose scale as one man rages against the machine (the Culture) with a motley crew who got dragged into things because they were on the wrong ship at the right time. The ever present Culture agent gets to go along for the ride, but has no say and no capability to do anything. Which surprised me given the status afforded these agents in subsequent books.

    And I don't know if this was intentional, but it was almost as if the book was a homage to other science fiction works - the space renegade/pirate comes first to mind, there was a chapter with a twisted version of Jabba the Hut, the decaying space Orbital reminded me of Larry Niven's Ringworld, and, the Man vs Machine theme. Just to name a few.
    I'm really not capturing the essence of Consider Phlebas in this review. If you've read Banks, you'll understand my struggle.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Recipe Review from 5/14/2012

    Garden is about half in.  There are still two beds left to till  - they need the corn stalks removed, which I think I'll leave for the Husband and his stronger back.  If you are thinking, Gosh, it's getting kinda late to plant, I would have to say, No, actually, we're planting early this year!  Welcome to life by the Big Pond, where you run the risk of re-planting everything if you stick it in before Memorial Day.  For example, it was 38* one morning this past week!  Yeah, still a bit cool.   Our frost free date is about June 7, but we've had cool weather even later than that.

    Meanwhile, with temps hitting the mid 70's in the afternoons, it's time to pull out some salad recipes.  The first one is not a new recipe, but I wasn't blogging the first time I made it so it warrants a review.   I actually had three recipes planned, but we had more leftovers than I anticipated and we went out to Gordy's Hi-Hat in Cloquet one nice evening. 

    Black Bean Taco Salad with Lime Vinaigrette Recipe  (Ckng Light, 2000)
    Again, not a new recipe but I couldn't tell you when I made it the first time.  I found this online, then when I went to find the recipe in my 2001 Annual, saw that I had already made it.   This is a nice change from what many of us in the Midwest consider a 'taco salad'.  The dressing is nice and tangy without being overwhelming (skip the cilantro if you don't like it) and the chicken and black beans go great together.  I toss the dressing with the


    1/4 cup chopped seeded tomato   (I used cherry tomatoes, not seeded)
    photo from
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon grated lime rind
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    1/4 teaspoon salt
     1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 teaspoon chili powder
     1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1 garlic clove, peeled   (skipped because I was lazy)

    1 1/2 cups chopped ready-to-eat roasted skinned, boned chicken breast (about 2 breasts)  (I used a rotisserie chicken)1 cup chopped tomato
    1 cup chopped green bell pepper
    1 cup finely diced red onion   (I skipped because I was too lazy to go to the garden and get some green onion)
    1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
    1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 4 cups fat-free baked tortilla chips (about 4 ounces)

    8 cups thinly sliced iceberg lettuce   (I use spinach, or a spring greens mix, or a spinach/baby kale/baby chard mix)

    To prepare vinaigrette, combine first 11 ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

    To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients except chips in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette; toss well to coat. Serve with chips.   Combine salad ingredients except lettuce and cheese.  Drizzle dressing over this and mix well.  Layer greens, salad ingredients, and cheese and add chips if you want.  (Some people don't like chips in their salad.)   This also prevents the greens from getting gross if there are leftovers. 

    Cooking Light
    JULY 2000

    White Bean and Roasted Chicken Salad  (Ckng Lght June 2004)
    Well, wouldn't ya know it, I already made this one too!  This comes together very quickly and I prefer it served over a bed of greens.  Add a little crumbled goat cheese if you like to dress it up. 

    Cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, are smaller than Great Northern beans and add just the right texture. Great for picnics or lazy-day suppers, this salad stirs together in a flash.
    Yield: 5 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

    2 cups coarsely chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken
    photo from
    1 cup chopped tomato
    1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
    1/3 cup sliced fresh basil
    2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 garlic cloves, minced   (skipped 'cause I'm lazy)

    To prepare salad, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir gently to combine.

    To prepare dressing, combine vinegar and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over salad, tossing gently to coat.

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Andy - one year later!

    If you recall, last year we lost our furry four legged freind Kia-dog.  Two weeks later we adopted this little guy: 

    The night we brought him home.
    The Look says it all...

    It...was a rough summer.  When he came home with us he had a new name (came to the shelter tag-less), he had no obedience training, regressed on or no potty training, and was in a new place with a new pack.  For the first three months we couldn't let him off lead as he didn't know his commands.  We focused on basic obedience (sit, stay, down, off, No!, etc).  There was a lot  of marching up and own our highway going for two and three mile walks, sometimes twice a day.  Yes, he was getting exercise, but not enough for a 2 year old pup.

    We turned a corner in August when we introduced a training collar.  Suddenly he understood that when we said "come!" we meant it.  Everyone - Andy included - breathed a sigh of relief.  He could run (and oh boy, can this dog run! So fun to watch!)  around our very large yard, and we could enforce the "come" command. 

    Andy           Ben
    The Dynamic Digging Duo

    At the beginning of 2012, Ben and Andy figured out how to play together and now in the evenings it's not uncommon to see them tussling out in the yard and chasing each other around.

    Is that a bird? I think I saw a bird...

    Andy has turned into a very well mannered, incredibly sweet, absolutely beautiful dog.  He's still got a lot of puppy in him - two hours of exercise a night are a must -  but he's come so far that I just had to share our progress.  We still have things we are working on, heck, Ben is over 9 years old and I still work on obedience with him, but the leaps and bounds we made with Andy over the past year have paid off. 

    Can I go play now?

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Mind Prey #7 and Sudden Prey #8 by John Sandford

    I'm reviewing two at once here. 

    Mind Prey #7
    I lasted three chapters and quit. This one was just too squicky. I found nothing remotely interesting or appealing about a sexual predator kidnapping a woman and her kids.

    From Goodreads:  Run for it... it was raining when psychiatrist Andi Manette left the parent-teacher conference with her two young daughters, and she was distracted. She barely noticed the red van parked beside her, barely noticed the van door slide open as they dashed up to the car. The last thing she did notice was the hand reaching out for her and the voice from out of the past -- and then the three of them were gone.

     Hours later, deputy chief Lucas Davenport stood in the parking lot, a blood-stained shoe in his hand, the ground stained pink around him, and knew that this would be one of the worst cases he'd ever been on. With an urgency born of dread, he presses the attack, while in an isolated farmhouse, Andi Manette does the same, summoning all her skills to battle an obsessed captor. She knows the man who has taken her and her daughters, knows there is a chink in his armor, if only she can find it. But for both her and Davenport, time is already running out.

    Sudden Prey #8
    Now, in defense of my review, this is colored by the fact that I accidentally read book #9 first so I knew what happened in very general terms.  With that being said, I'm not sure why I kept reading this one.  The criminals were dumb.  The cops were dumb. The spouses/girlfriends were dumb.  It was a plethora of collective dumbness.  The only smart character in the book was the drug dealer who took his girl friend and left town completely.    I also found it hard to swallow the almost 180* about face the main antagonist did at the end of the book.  I highly doubt someone with as multipule murders under his belt, hard jail time, on a mission of revenge, etc would suddenly be reminicing cordially about life in Northern Wisconsin with the person he spent the book determined to kill.  The whole set up just totally didn't work for me.  And I also question Davenports side of things and having the authority to just snuff out the antagonist.   Not one of the better Davenport books.

    From Goodreads:  Revenge runs deep in this novel about a violent man who tracks down the police officers who were responsible for the death of his bank-robbing wife, then kills those nearest and closet to them. The revenge-crazed killer eludes detection until the pattern of rage and terror finally becomes clear to Lucas Davenport, the leader of the crime unit. Lucas presses the hunt for the killer before his family becomes the next victims. But it's too late. The killer is now within striking distance.

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    Recipe Review from 5/7/2012

    A busy weekend what with celebrating Mother's Day on Saturday after the guys got back from a charter fishing trip on Lake Superior.  And a beautiful day it was to be out on the Big Pond - darn near calm water, sunny, and three large ships to watch coming and going.  The guys were increadibly successful, maxing out limits on Lake Trout and Coho Salmon. 

    Sunday was spent out in the garden tilling, weeding and planting corn, butternut squash, peas and lettuce.  Planting will continue this week.  A quick run around with the mower has the lawn nice and tidy and one flower bed is weeded and mulched.  Might have to consider a garden party with the beds looking so nice! 

    Three recipe winners this week!  All very easy and simple to make:

    Broccoli and Bacon Mac and Cheese  (Cooking Light April 2012)
    This was supposed to have been on the previous week, but I over planned or under estimated how much the other dishes would make so this was pushed forward.  This is pretty quick to make, mine seemed to turn out a bity runny despite following the directions to the letter.  Not sure what the facination is with green onions in recipes these days...

    3 cups broccoli florets
    photo from
    8 ounces uncooked rigatoni
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
    2 ounces reduced-fat processed American cheese, cut into pieces
    1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled 4 or 8 oz kielbasa, sauted is a nice substitute.
    2 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup packed)

    1. Steam broccoli 5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Pat dry, and keep warm. Cook pasta in boiling water in a large saucepan for 8 minutes or until al dente; drain and keep warm. Wipe pan with paper towels, and return to medium heat. Melt butter in pan. Sprinkle flour over melted butter; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add milk to the flour mixture in pan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thick, and remove from heat. Add American cheese; stir until smooth. Stir in sliced green onions and the remaining ingredients. Stir in broccoli and pasta; serve immediately.

    Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light
    APRIL 2012

    North African Chicken and Couscous   (Ckng Lght, May 2000)
    Okay, prep for this is pretty quick, providing you don't spill the bag of Israeli couscous all over the floor (and under the stove, and under the fridge, and under the table) during prep like the Husband did.  Vacuuming added a good 30 minutes to getting this made.  Spilled pasta aside, this is a great dish.  Loved the flavors, used a rotisserie chicken (one chicken is about 4 cups of shredded meat), and subbed a zucchini for the cucumber. I would make this again for any kind of get-together. 

    Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 cups)

    2 cups water   (if using Israeli couscous, follow cooking directions on package)
    1 1/2 cups uncooked couscous   (if using Israeli couscous, follow cooking directions on package)
    1/2 cup golden raisins
    1/2 cup thawed orange juice concentrate, undiluted
    1/3 cup lemon juice
    2 tablespoons water
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    3 cups chopped ready-to-eat roasted skinned, boned chicken breasts (about 3 breasts)
    2 cups chopped peeled cucumber zucchini
    1 cup chopped red bell pepper
    1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions  (skipped)
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    Sliced green onions (optional)

    Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and gradually stir in couscous and raisins. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

    Combine orange juice and next 6 ingredients (orange juice through black pepper); stir well with a whisk.

    Combine the couscous mixture, juice mixture, chicken, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

    Cooking Light, MAY 2000

    Baked Risotto (Ckng Lght BB via O Magazine by Oprah, April 2012)
    This is a WINNER people!  A risotto dish doesn't get any easier than this!  (Doin' a happy happy joy joy dance in my kitchen).   From start to table, this took an hour.  A half hour of this was cleaning up, wandering upstairs to take a shower, setting the table, and serving.  Seriously.  No modifications here, did the basic recipe and I have my eye on one of the alternative variations for Mother's Day weekend.  I served this with King Salmon the first night, and leftover rotisserie chicken a following night.  Yum yum yum.  GF if you check your chicken/vegetable broth or use water.  Omit the meat and make it vegetarian too.

    Most risotto recipes require standing at the stove and stirring the pot continuously; this simpler version lets the oven do all the work.Serves 4 to 6  (My notes - closer to 6)

    •4 strips bacon, chopped
    •1 onion, chopped
    •1½ cups Arborio rice
    •½ cup dry white wine
    •4 cups chicken broth or water
    •1 tsp. kosher salt
    •½ tsp. ground black pepper
    •1 cup frozen peas
    •½ cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish  (skipped)
    •2 to 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    •1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces), plus more for garnish

    Active time: 20 minutes
    Total time: 45 minutes   (Seriously!  Spot on!)
    Preheat oven to 400°. Using an oven-safe, straight-sided saucepan or Dutch oven with a lid, cook bacon over medium-high heat. When cooked through, remove bacon and set aside, reserving fat in pan. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat with bacon fat. Stir in wine and cook until it has evaporated, 1 minute more. Stir in broth, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and bake 20 to 25 minutes; check the risotto. Most of the liquid should be absorbed and the rice just cooked. Stir in peas and basil and return to oven, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

    Remove risotto from oven and stir in butter and cheese. Add reserved bacon, season to taste with salt and pepper, and spoon into bowls. Shave additional Parmesan over the top and garnish with basil.

    Baked Risotto Four Fresh Ways

    Start with our recipe (simply leave out the peas and bacon and sauté the onions with 2 Tbsp. olive oil), and then pick a variation below.

    Shrimp, tomato, and mozzarella: Follow the basic recipe, cooking 1 pint grape tomatoes along with the onions. After 20 minutes in the oven, covered, stir in 8 ounces halved, peeled, and deveined shrimp. Return to oven 5 minutes. Instead of Parmesan cheese, stir in 1 packed cup grated mozzarella along with butter.

    Sweet onion, sausage, and spinach: Follow the basic recipe, using a sweet onion instead of a white one. Cook 9 ounces crumbled Italian sausage with the onions. After 25 minutes in the oven, covered, stir in 3 packed cups baby spinach (5 ounces), along with Parmesan cheese and butter.

    Artichoke, ricotta, and mint: Follow the basic recipe. After 25 minutes in the oven, covered, stir in 8 ounces quartered canned artichoke hearts (the water drained), along with ¾ to 1 cup more warm broth or water, ½ cup grated Parmesan, ½ cup ricotta cheese, and butter. Top each portion with chopped mint and lemon zest.

    Wild mushroom and Fontina: Follow the basic recipe, cooking 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms (like button, crimini, oyster, or shiitake) with the onions. After 25 minutes in the oven, covered, stir in 1 packed cup Fontina cheese (instead of Parmesan cheese) along with butter

    Read more:

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    In Memorium: Maggie 2003-2012

    Maggie was the bro and SIL's Great Dane.  A beautiful fawn colored dog with a black face, and in her later years, a beautiful white face.  I really don't think you could have found a sweeter dog.  Weighing in between 140 and 150, she let you know she wanted some loving by coming up and leaaannnning against you.  She stood tall enough that my Ben could easily run right under her legs.  

    Sept 2005

    As a puppy S would take her to work (she did before and after school programs for kiddies) and they would shove the desks aside and play tag.   Now that's a dream job for any puppy!

    Over the last year or so, Maggie was "adopted" by a family down the street from K3 after they lost their dog.  Such loving Maggie got there!  Baths, attention, walks, it was a good situation for everyone.  Bro and SIL didn't have to kennel Maggie and Maggie got baths...

    I was reflecting this past week as I was watching the morning sun stream in, that I still had Maggie-snot on my window.  Yes, a window that is easily 4' off the ground has her nose prints on it. 

    You'll be missed puppy-kins. 

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    Sidetracked by Henning Mankell (Book #5)

    Sidetracked (Wallander #5)Sidetracked by Henning Mankell

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    From  In the award-winning Sidetracked, Kurt Wallander is called to a nearby rapeseed field where a teenage girl has been loitering all day long. He arrives just in time to watch her douse herself in gasoline and set herself aflame. The next day he is called to a beach where Sweden’s former Minister of Justice has been axed to death and scalped. The murder has the obvious markings of a demented serial killer, and Wallander is frantic to find him before he strikes again. But his investigation is beset with a handful of obstacles—a department distracted by the threat of impending cutbacks and the frivolity of World Cup soccer, a tenuous long-distance relationship with a murdered policeman’s widow, and the unshakably haunting preoccupation with the young girl who set herself on fire. Fascinating and astute, Sidetracked is a compelling mystery enhanced by keen social awareness

    This book moved along much more quickly than The Man Who Smiled. Wallander's character, who is prone to deep introspection, didn't seem to become as bogged down in his moody depressive thoughts as he was previously. In The Man Who Smiled, I just wanted to grab Wallander by the lapels and shake him till he snapped out of it. Perhaps it is a Swedish thing?

    In Sidetracked, the Ysted police force is faced with a horrific serial killer and it's affecting everyone, more so since it seems half of them were slated to go on Holiday and now can't because of the nature of the crime. They are over worked and understaffed. Wallander has resumed the role of lead detective as his small group doggedly try to figure out what connects these seemingly random murders, but the link remains just out of their reach.

    We also had less arguing in this book (see previous review), in that when Wallander asked for back-up, a forensics team, or further research to be done, they did it without asking "Why?" all. the. time. In this book, the police acted like a police department and less like a bunch of petulant teenagers. At least until the last quarter of the book, then everyone regressed and Wallander was bossing around another precinct as well.

    I also enjoyed - and I have no idea if this was on purpose or by chance - the little comparisons of the Ysted crime to crimes in the US. It was amusing to hear (audiobook, remember!) "...this doesn't happen in Sweden! This sort of thing happens in the US!"

    My complaint in this book lies in the lack of character development of the supporting cast. They are very two dimensional and I would have liked to see their characters fleshed out more as the series moves forward. Still, I'm looking forward to the next book.

    View all my reviews

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    Recipe Review from 5/1/12

    This was one of those weeks where I had more recipes planned than what actually got made.  Both these dishes below made more than advertised (both made 3 meals for two adults).  I have the ingredients for Bacon and Broccoli Mac and Cheese, but that will get made this week (assuming my broccoli doesn't go bad...).   

    Had enough leftovers to carry the Husband through the weekend while I went down to the Cities for a 4-day yoga workshop (Fri - breathwork, Sat - am practice, pm twists and backbends, Sun - head behind the leg and standing on your head, Mon - arm balances).  I'm meeting a friend down there and she's gluten free/dairy free so I suspect I'll be eating pretty light.  K4 has asked if I'll watch the nephew for an evening so she and Hubby can get some alone time.  OF COURSE I'll watch the little guy!  Who can resist this little face?   He was a sweetie and we got along fabulously. 

    Potato, Chorizo and Green Chili Burrito's  (Ckng Lght, May 2012)
    With all the rice dishes I seem to be making lately, these were a nice change of pace.  Don't be deterred by the 'green chili' - it's a poblano and super mild.  Once sauteed, it adds lots of nice flavor with almost no heat.  If you are a Hot Head, feel free to add in some jalapeno.   The fresh salsa listed first tastes nice, but can be skipped if you have some canned stuff in the fridge to be used up (like I should have done...).  I find a traditional cheddar works fine; I detest having specialty Mexican cheese sitting around and having to worry about using it before it goes bad.    GF if you skip the tortillas or use 100% corn tortillas.

    I served this with fresh baked cornbread. 
    photo from
    1 cup chopped tomato
    2 tablespoons diced white onion
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
    2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

    10 ounce red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    6 ounces Mexican raw chorizo
    1 cup chopped white onion
    1/3 cup thinly sliced poblano chile
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    4 (7- to 8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
    2 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)   (I used extra sharp white cheddar, grated)


    1. Place the red potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Remove the pan from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain; pat potatoes dry with paper towels.

    2. Combine 1 cup tomato, 2 tablespoons onion, cilantro, and lime juice.

    3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo; cook for 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add 1 cup onion and poblano to pan; cook 2 minutes or until onion is tender and chorizo is done, stirring frequently. Remove the chorizo mixture from pan. Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add potatoes; cook for 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat. Stir in chorizo mixture and salt.

    4. Heat the tortillas according to package directions. Divide the potato mixture evenly among tortillas, and top evenly with salsa and cheese. Roll up each burrito, jelly-roll fashion.

    5. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 burritos to pan, seam side down; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned.

    Krista Ackerbloom Montgomery, Cooking Light
    MAY 2012

    One-Dish Chicken and Kielbasa Rice  (Ckng Lght Annual 2007)
    We have another winner!  Not sure how I missed this recipe either.  Right up my culinary tastes.  The name is a bit of a misnomer, it takes two dishes to pull this together, but prep is super easy and this is on the table in about 30 minutes.  I did use regular kielbasa (I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to kielbasa),  red pepper instead of green, and a mixed veggies instead of peas.  Made for a more colorful dish.   Check the kielbasa and chicken stock, but this should be GF.  

    One note of importance - parboiled rice is quick-cooking rice.  I did not use quick cooking rice and my rice turned out a bit crunchy when made as directed.  You can use regular long-grain rice, but just add extra broth or water in the first step and allow for a slightly longer boil/set time.

    2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    photo from
    1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
    8 ounces turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    2 cups long-grain parboiled rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces  (about 2 thighs - I froze the extra for later)
    1 cup prechopped onion
    1 cup prechopped green bell pepper    (I used a red pepper)
    1/2 cup frozen green peas  (I used a mixed veggies of peas, carrots, beans and corn)
    1/4 cup sliced pitted stuffed manzanilla (or green) olives
    1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic Preparation

    Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes.  (**IF using regular rice, add about 1/2-2/3 cup extra liquid, boil for about 5-10 minutes, then let stand 10 minutes. Proceed with prepping rest of dish). 

    Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add chicken pieces; cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in peas, sliced olives, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add rice mixture; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly.

    David Bonom, Cooking Light
    DECEMBER 2006

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    Thunder Bay by William Kent Kruger (Bk #7)

    Thunder Bay (Cork O'Connor, #7)Thunder Bay by William Kent Krueger

    My rating: 2 of 5 stars

    Two distractions right off the bat: WKK switched to first person POV for Corks voice. It for me. Next distraction was the audiobooks fault, they changed the narrator. The narrator they switched to has done the five PJ Tracy Monkeewrench books, so instead of hearing "Cork's voice", all I heard was the characters from Monkeewrench. Again, put the book off for me.

    However, POV and narrators aside, this was just a meh read. If you've been following the Cork O'Connor series (which has taken the reader to the North Shore, Chicago, and the Upper Pennisula of Michigan) we are now invited into Henry Meliu's past in Ontario which I found to be one huge cliche. Which I won't spoil for those folks who like the series. Actually the whole book felt like one large cliche.

    And what is it with WKK's characters getting shot in the leg? First Cork, then young Meliu and Wally Shawno. As I grumped to the Husband about the book he pointed out the leg has replaced the shoulder for the 'injury' of choice in books now, due simply to the fact that some authors are trying to be medically correct. Getting shot in the shoulder is a complicated injury. Getting stabbed or injured in the leg, while painful, is not as complicated from an anatomical standpoint. Unless you hit a major artery. Then your character should be done for.

    Two minor complaints: WKK noted Woodruff (or Henry, I forget) shot a Wild Turkey. Ahh, there are no Wild Turkeys in the area north and east of Ely, MN as represented in the book. The wild turkey is traditionally found well south of Duluth, dependent upon a hardwood forest and prairie interface to provide forage. The aspen and pine cover type that dominates the northeastern part of MN does not support this fine bird. Given the time frame of said shooting would have been 1940's/1950's? Bit of guessing here...the turkey had been hunted almost to extinction and even less likely to have been found in this corner of the States. Just sayin'....

    Cardinals. Not a northern bird. This one surprised me too when I found it out. Last I heard, there were about 10 pairs known to be in the Duluth area. Not gonna find this little guy north of that. Maybe a Scarlet Tanager though. So Henry or Maurice are not going to be seeing a Cardinal in Ontario. Again, just sayin'....

    Recommended with significant>

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