Peanut chicken 8 2016

“Anybody Got a Peanut….” Chicken

Who doesn’t love a good classic?  My family loves The Princess Bride.  Though I’m not sure I’m ok with a movie I grew up with being called a classic.  To me those are the black and white films from another era.  I know it’s denial!  But I’m sticking with it.

It’s a film that we love to watch with popcorn reciting the quotes as they come up in the film.  Well to be honest we throw out the quotes even if we aren’t watching the film.  Get to the food you say?  “As you wish….”

Because it’s just been my husband and I for the past month (our kids come back tonight!) we had two chicken thighs left over from the four pack that needed to be used.

Peanut chicken 1 2016

I wanted to go with Asian flavours for this dish.  Prep the marinade for the chicken thighs first.  In a bowl whisk peanut oil and soy sauce (we use gluten free amino acids) in a ratio of 3:1.  Finely chop a clove of garlic, some scallion, and grate about a teaspoon of fresh ginger.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix well and coat the two chicken thighs.

Peanut chicken 2 2016

Set aside for at least a half an hour.  While you make the sauce, cook the rice noodles to the package instruction and grill the chicken.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and saute them on medium heat.  You don’t want to brown the garlic.

Peanut chicken 3 2016

After a few minutes add about half a cup of chopped scallion.

Peanut chicken 4 2016

Add the leftover marinade from the chicken and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce.  Bring to a simmer and add a tablespoon or two of lime juice.  Stir in a large spoonful of peanut butter.  I chose chunky to save me a step of chopping up peanuts.

Peanut chicken 5 2016

Add more peanut butter as needed to get the right the balance between the sweetness of the peanut butter and saltiness of the soy sauce.

Peanut chicken 6 2016

When the chicken is nearly done add about a cup of chopped red bell pepper.

Peanut chicken 7 2016

Add the rice noodles with 1/2 a cup of the hot water the noodles were cooked in to thin out the sauce.  Toss to coat.

Peanut chicken 8 2016

Top with the chicken and serve as soon as possible.

I have to say even though our food bill was much lower with the kids off on their adventures I am so excited they will be home.  With huge appetites and all.  :)


Orzo lemon chicken 6 2016

Orzo with Lemon Chicken and New Tools

Some learning curves can be exciting.  Some not so much, like my learning curve with statistics in college.  Loved the subject but come test time it was always like I’d never been to class.  Never got far on that curve, bell or no bell.  But now I’m liking my learning curve.  Because there are a few projects I want to do, such as start a YouTube channel, and I was in the weeds with Unix, much to my chagrin, I needed tools that I could make headway on my own.  I.e not bugging my husband/IT guy all the time.  He has always been good about helping me but I hate not knowing how to do something!

So I am now a proud new owner of an iMac.  And I’m loving my new setup.  One, I can find and set up software I need, that is a big step in getting things done.  Though if it heads into Unix territory like GIMP then I have to ask for help there but for the most part it’s been good.  And it’s pretty easy to get an apple person on the phone if need be.  I’m quickly collecting senior tech phone numbers.

I do like the iMovie on the desktop, much easier than the iPad.  So watch this space as they say, I hope to have something soon.  The big thing I need to figure out is the uncopyrighted music so I don’t get slapped by YouTube.

Going through our cupboards I realised we had orzo still so I thought it would be nice with lemon, yoghurt, and oregano. Orzo lemon chicken 1 2016

I also wanted to grill up some chicken thighs.  Prep these ahead of time with a marinade.  With a ratio of 2:1 mix olive oil and lemon juice together.  Season with sea salt and pepper. Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves and a small handful of fresh oregano.  Mix well and coat two chicken thighs.

Orzo lemon chicken 2 2016

Set aside for about an hour.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and start softening about half a cup of chopped red onion.  Once the onion starts to become translucent add 3-5 cloves (depending on size) of garlic, chopped.

Orzo lemon chicken 3 2016

At this point start grilling the chicken on medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 cups of chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a medium simmer.  It’s important to stir frequently as orzo has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the skillet.  Add more liquid as necessary because you want to make sure there is enough for the sauce.

Orzo lemon chicken 4 2016

When the orzo is half cooked add a few sliced mushrooms and another small handful of oregano, chopped.  Stir well.  Near the end of cooking add a third of a cup of plain yoghurt and about a cup of chopped red bell pepper.  This gives the dish a nice pop of colour.

Orzo lemon chicken 5 2016

Serve once the chicken is cooked.

Orzo lemon chicken 6 2016

The flavours of this dish are very bright with the yoghurt and lemon.  It’s a great dish if you are getting tired of salads!

Quinoa 5 2016

Grilled Pork, Quinoa, and Eddie Izzard

Sometimes it’s good to be lucky.  I was scrolling through Facebook, as you do, and saw something about Eddie Izzard coming to New Hampshire.  I thought I wasn’t reading that right as why would someone who did Wembley do a small theatre?  But lo and behold, it was true!  And it was brilliant.

He has always done really funny stuff but he has definitely progressed into a much more thoughtful dialog while using history to illustrate his point.  In a hilarious way of course but he got his view across.  And he did Q & A afterwards.  It was a fabulous evening.  My favourite quote was “I believe in human beings”.  What a lovely sentiment.

I did find time to cook this weekend.  When I went food shopping I found some quinoa on sale (who doesn’t like a sale?) and bok choi.  I also found some pork ribs which would go great with homemade mustard.  I recently made some without the chili so it would go well with this dish.

Quinoa 1 2016

The quinoa itself is really easy to make, only takes about 15 minutes.  Make it according to the package.  Thinly spread mustard on both sides of the pork ribs.  You don’t want it too thick otherwise it can overwhelm the dish.  If you think it will you can always mix the mustard with some olive oil and white wine vinegar. Set the pork aside. In a skillet, heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and add a few mushrooms that have been chopped and a couple of garlic cloves that have been finely chopped.  Add some fresh thyme and season with sea salt and pepper.

Quinoa 2 2016

Once the mushrooms start browning add a quarter cup of dry sherry and half a cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer.

Quinoa 3 2016

Chop up the stems of the bok choi and add it to the skillet.  Add the quinoa.  Allow the stems to cook for a minute or so.  Then add the leaves.

Quinoa 5 2016

Top with the grilled pork and enjoy.  There were enough leftovers that I changed it up with bacon, sausage, and white wine.  Quinoa can be surprisingly versatile.

Italian salad 5 2016

Italian Salad and Being Exercised by the House

Negative space.  Great when it comes to artwork.  Not so much when it comes to a house.  Our house was built in 1895 and I have to say it was solidly built.  It’s still relatively square. But man, when we redo rooms or do projects we find some serious negative space.  While our kids are off on their summer adventures we redid my son’s floor.  Because the wood had been damaged we had to pull up the old flooring.  Which gave us a chance to put in new insulation.  And that is where we saw the latest example of negative space.  So we stuffed a lot of insulation in.  Our son will be quite toasty this winter.

Thankfully that is a few months off.  On Father’s Day we joined our friends in the traditional Father’s Day BBQ and I had made a twist on the caprese salad with bacon and lettuce.  I didn’t have the time to get stuff together for a blog post then but I thought I’d remake it for my husband and I but added chicken.  Because why not?

Italian salad 1 2016

In a skillet start cooking 4-5 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped up.  Once the bacon is half cooked add about a third of a cup of chopped onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped.  Add a teaspoon or so of fresh thyme.

Italian salad 2 2016

While this is cooking make up the dressing and grill the chicken.  I just seasoned the chicken with sea salt and pepper as it will be dressed before adding to the salad.  In a bowl add olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  The ration was about 1:3/4 oil to vinegar.  Whisk to emulsify. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Italian salad 3 2016

Cut up the chicken into small pieces.  Add the chicken and the bacon mixture to the bowl and toss in the dressing.

Italian salad 4 2016

Add to lettuce and top with chopped tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

Italian salad 5 2016

A super easy, flavourful salad for summer nights.  Without leaving you feeling stuffed.

Shortbread 5 2016

Shortbread for Not so Short

My son has taken to calling me shorty.  Sigh, problem is that he isn’t wrong.  But he thinks it is hilarious that he keeps growing like a weed and he is pretty much out pacing me in any high heels I may have.  This ship has sailed.

Even though we are in the throes of a hot summer I wanted to bake for the kids so they’d have a treat after they came back from camp.  In keeping with the shorty theme and trying not to overheat the kitchen I decided to make shortbread.  I had made this before but my camera setup wasn’t working, turns out I needed to change the batteries on the remote.  That was easy to fix but I may be facing bigger issues with the camera.  Fingers crossed I’m not but it’s been acting very strange.  I love the camera so I want it to behave!

Years ago my parents gave me a cookery book called “Cape Breton Pictorial Cookbook” and it was edited by Yvonne LeVert.  It is a collection of recipes from the area and the influences from immigrants.

I used my hand mixer for this to cream the butter and sugarShortbread 1 2016

In a medium mixing bowl cream together a cup of softened butter and a 1/2 cup of brown sugar.

Shortbread 2 2016

This will take a few minutes.  Add a teaspoon of vanilla and gradually add two cups of flour, mixing a bit in at a time.  Tip out onto a floured surface.

Shortbread 3 2016

Knead to form a ball.  Now the recipe said to roll out.  Which seemed weird but hey I tried it.  Wrong!  You definitely need to chill for at least a half an hour.

Shortbread 4 2016

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.  On a well floured surface roll out the dough with a well floured rolling pin.  Roll it out to about an 1/8″ of an inch.  Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes you want and prick the tops with a fork.  Bake 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown.

Shortbread 5 2016

Let cool and enjoy.  We’ve been enjoying it with the rhubarb ginger jam I made recently.  The tart and sweet go really well together.

Rhubarb ginger jam 3 2016

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

As anyone with a garden knows, you have some great successes and some disappointing failures.  Up until this year we have done really well with rhubarb.  This year they are very anemic.  We were able to freeze a few stalks but to do this jam I had to make a trip to the co-op to get more rhubarb.

When I made the Victorian Sponge in England this year I used my MIL’s rhubarb ginger jam.  It was absolutely delicious.  I couldn’t wait for rhubarb season.  Didn’t realise it wasn’t worth the wait.  So we will have to figure that out for next year.

Rhubarb ginger jam 1 2016

I had about 6 stalks.  Slice the rhubarb and add it to a saucepan.  Add about a 1/4 cup of water and a tablespoon of lemon juice.  Bring it to a simmer.  I wasn’t sure how much ginger I should use so I started with a piece about 1 1/2in/4cm by 1in/2.5cm.  Grate into the sauce pan.

Rhubarb ginger jam 2 2016

As the rhubarb starts breaking down start adding brown sugar.  To get the right balance with the heat of the ginger, the tartness of rhubarb, and the sweetness of the sugar, you need a lot of sugar.  I used about a cup and a half for this.  But add the sugar a bit at a time until the balance is right.  The heat and tartness of the ingredients will be different each time.  Simmer until the jam begins to thicken.

Rhubarb ginger jam 3 2016

This isn’t lasting long.  By the time the weekend was over there was just enough left to process one jar.  Guess I’ll be going back to the co-op!

Peach bourbon pork 5 2016

Peach Bourbon Grilled Pork

I’ve been trying this week to figure out video editing and the open source software.  No success yet. I’m trying not to get frustrated but it drives me batty when my love of technology runs into the wall of not knowing how to make it work for me.  So it may be awhile before I get this up and running.  Annoying since I have a few ideas and I can see it in my head.  Just need to get it through the keyboard onto the screen.

Peaches are in season and they have been showing up at the co-op, yay!  And they had pork on sale. I know, I know, meat on sale?  Can’t be a good idea.  Usually I would agree but I’ve had success with the sales at the co-op.

Peach bourbon pork 2 2016

In a small bowl mix up a dry rub.  I used a tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper,  1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon of ground cumin and dried cilantro, and sea salt and pepper.

Peach bourbon pork 1 2016

Mix well and rub on both sides of the pork.  Set aside to “marinade”.  For the peach bourbon sauce chop up an onion to make about 1/2 a cup and finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and start cooking the onion and garlic.

Peach bourbon pork 3 2016

Peel and dice one peach.  Add to the skillet. Simmer until the peach starts to soften.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of bourbon.  I used Gentleman Jack but use whatever one you enjoy.  Then add brown sugar.  I started with a tablespoon but added more as it cooked to balance it with the bourbon.  I also seasoned it with a teaspoon of cayenne, sea salt, and pepper.

Peach bourbon pork 4 2016

Continue to simmer until the peaches soften and the sauce reduces a bit.  Grill the pork and a peach cut in half.

Peach bourbon pork 5 2016

I could do without the stifling heat of summer but boy do I love the flavours.

Leek Bacon Burger 4 2016

Leek and Bacon Burgers

When I started blogging I was nudged by a friend to just go ahead and do it.  Instead of just thinking about it and worrying whether it could be successful or not.  For a few months now I’ve been wondering about starting a YouTube channel.  Of course I have been trying to figure out if I could pull it off, what would I do, how would I do it, that sort of thing.

I’ve been inspired by Stéphane of My French Heaven who has started his channel.  He has already uploaded a few videos and he is doing a great job.  It’s a bit of a learning curve for me as I don’t have a Mac and we don’t use Windows.  So I found an open source video editor Kdenlive to try out.  I took a few videos to practice and boy did I feel silly!  It’s one thing to have in your head what you want to do and another to actually press record and do it.  So I’ll do a bit of practicing and see what I can sort out.  I have iMovie on my phone but that screen is too small for me and I don’t have enough space on my iPad.  Then I have to figure out camera set ups.  I think this could be fun, once I learn the ropes.

This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous so we did a lot of outdoor projects.  Which meant easy dinners was the name of the game.  My husband wanted burgers.  I wanted to do them with a twist.  For the actual burger I did the same ones as I did in my gourmet burgers.  Though instead of goat meat I used beef.

Leek Bacon Burger 1 2016

Instead of buns I bought large portobello caps to grill.  Just prep them with sea salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Set aside while you prep the burgers.  Slice about half a cup of leeks and a few button mushrooms.  Cut up a few rashers of streaky bacon.

Leek Bacon Burger 2 2016

Start cooking the bacon in a skillet.  Once it is half cooked add the mushrooms and leeks to the skillet.  While this is cooking grill the burgers and portobello caps.

Leek Bacon Burger 3 2016

Stack the burger on the mushroom caps, add goat cheese, and top with the leek and bacon mixture.

Leek Bacon Burger 4 2016

For this you can pick just about any cheese you like, my husband likes jarlsberg. You don’t need much more than this as it is quite filling.

Please let me know if you have a YouTube channel or any advice on having one.

Italian potato salad 3 2016

Italian Potato Salad

My husband and I have been enjoying exploring the bike paths that run through our area.  I’m still surprised at how much I love biking.  And it’s great along the shady paths with the little breeze we work up.  Keeps the humidity off of us.  Still tweaking the bike so it fits  me better.  I found a memory foam seat cover which eases the bumps we go over.  Today I’m bringing the bike back to adjust the handle bars.  My husband and I tried but damn if we couldn’t shift it.

Of course after doing a ride we don’t want a heavy meal and to be frank I lack the energy to whip up anything complicated.  Still building up the stamina!  We bought some lovely new potatoes from the farmer’s market this past weekend and a potato salad is an easy thing to make before the ride.  As my husband isn’t into things with mayo I decided to make an Italian potato salad.

Italian potato salad 1 2016

I made up the marinade first so the sundried tomatoes could soak a bit.  I used the ratio 2:1 for olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.   Whisk to bring the two ingredients together and add a couple of cloves of garlic chopped, a few teaspoons of fresh thyme, and sea salt and pepper to taste.

Italian potato salad 2 2016

Cook up the potatoes until soft, drain and add to the marinade.  Some potatoes will soften and fluff a bit with this, more than others.  The ones I bought definitely fluffed a bit.  Stir to coat evenly in the marinade.  Add chopped proscuitto, freshly grated parmesan, mozzarella, and fresh basil.  Chill then serve.  Though you could have it warm if you prefer.

Italian potato salad 3 2016

Prior to the ride I marinated steak with thyme, sea salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar.  Easy to grill up and dinner is ready in no time at all!

Baby blanket 2 2016

New Beginnings and What the Hell Just Happened?

For millions of people, waking up on Friday was quite the shock.  It was frustrating in the lead up to the vote for me because not living within the border meant I couldn’t vote on my future.  I’m one of those people that will plan years in advance for certain things, particularly big things.  Moving back to the UK is pretty big, especially with finances.  I knew if the vote swung Leave it would really upset the pound and markets.  Despite what Boris claimed.

Because of the time difference my husband and I were glued to our iPads refreshing the vote counts on the BBC website until after 3am Greenwich time.  The writing was on the wall but I’d hoped something would change while I slept.

While I applaud the attitude of respecting how people voted, I find it disturbing the trend of googling after the vote ended asking what the EU was or what could happen if the vote was Leave.  I don’t care what you vote for but I do care if you understand the ramifications.  And the videos of interviews of people saying they didn’t understand or didn’t think their vote mattered when they voted leave and they wish they could change it bothers me.

I hope cooler heads prevail when the discussions on how the UK exits happen.  I do think the EU should have a do over with a healthy dose of hindsight.  There are a lot of benefits to having a single block but there needs to be more cultural sensitivity.  Whether it has to do with the pint or trying to regulate a cheese made in France for centuries, these things should be allowed to thrive.

But since we’re not invited to the table we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

In the meantime I got to meet my newest nephew.  He is just over three weeks old and a little peanut.  His only worries are sleeping and eating.  Now I know how long pregnancies last, do you think I planned ahead to crochet something for him?  Alas, no.  So once he was born I went into a bit of a panic and rushed out to buy yarn.  I managed to get the blanket and the little beanie done quickly.

Baby blanket 1 2016

I had bought a book, Crochet Step by Step by Sally Harding, to relearn crochet.  When I was a baby my aunt had crocheted a blanket using a shell pattern so I wanted to do a similar pattern.  The book gave me the stitch count and I came up with how many I needed to do the size I wanted.

Baby blanket 2 2016

The little beanie was very easy to make.  I used a pattern from Mango Tree.  It is a free pattern and she gives instructions for sizes from newborn to adult.

So even though the world can still turn upside down, life goes on.  And that’s ok.