Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Let the Games Begin

As much as I enjoy watching the the best athletes in the world compete in the Winter Olympics, those games are over and now it's my turn to say Let the Games Begin. I'm talking about the garden games. Plant, nurture, cultivate, compost, harvest, and all the other events of summer gardening. The Seed Catalogs are arriving faster than I can empty the mailbox. Already having more seeds than a person needs, I still have to flip through every page just in case there is something that I MUST have. It's really encouraging to see the number of organic seed options that are showing up.
The last frost date in the Denver area typically coincides with Mothers Day during the second week of

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Have Spices...Will Travel

I want to share an idea I recently came up with. Being a big believer in re-purposing items I already own, I am quite pleased with this re-invention.  Wherever we travel there is usually a kitchen available, and that being the case, I'll probably be in it.  I can find a grocery store almost anywhere that will help me stock my temporary refrigerator, but attempting to find my favorite spices, that's another story.  Even if I did happen to locate said spices, only needing a teaspoon or so, the purchase of half a dozen bottles just rubs me the wrong way. 
In almost every craft room and garage, there are likely to be some of these plastic storage containers. They come in very handy for keeping

Thursday, February 13, 2014

That's Nuts!

You would have to be living in a cave not to have heard or read that nuts are good for you.  Walnuts have a high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids. Pecans can help lower cholesterol.  Cashews are loaded with fiber and protein.  Nuts.com reports that pound for pound, almonds are the most nutrient dense of all tree nuts.  They also single out Brazil nuts for their unique high selenium content, whose antioxidant properties protect against heart disease, cancer and aging.  Pistachio and pine nuts are both packed with fiber.  Of course, as with everything, moderation is key.  I'm not saying to consume a pound of nuts in one sitting.  Here are two simple, yet tasty recipes for spicy nuts that I make often.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Best Cocoa Brownies

This brownie recipe has been floating around for many years, and has been on my 'to make' list for far too long.  With all the snow days we've had on the calender lately, I've been able to spend more time in the kitchen and finally we have them.  If you are in need of instant gratification, without a lot of fuss and fancy ingredients, most of which you probably have in the pantry, this is going to make your day.
The creator of this recipe, Alice Medrich, author of eight cook books and one of the country's foremost experts on chocolate and chocolate desserts urges the use of everyday natural unsweetened cocoa powder (the dark brown box in the back of the cupboard) for these brownies.  She believes it delivers a richer chocolate flavor than the often called for Dutch-process cocoa.  I believe Alice is on to something.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Roasted Achiote Chicken with Veggies and Aioli

This meal was a feast for my eyes long before my taste buds got involved. Once the chicken has marinated over night, the assembly of this one dish wonder is amazingly quick.  Achiote paste is the base for this earthy marinade that originated in the Yucatan region of Mexico.  If you can't find the paste in your local market, be prepared to use some elbow grease with your mortar and pestle.
Rumor has it that annoto seeds are extremely hard and can break a spice grinder.  I followed anothers lead to soak the seeds in water for thirty minutes and they were still hard.  The good news...once the paste is made, wrap tablespoon sized portions in plastic and freeze for later use.