Greek Yogurt | Parsley, Sage and Sweet

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Greek Yogurt Garlic Ranch “Mayo”, and The End.

April 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Dinner, Healthy, Lunch, Poultry, Rainbow, Sandwiches/Wraps, Seafood, Vegetables | 58 Comments
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I wrote a long preface to this post, but was told to ditch it.  Too personal, too revealing, too much apologizing and explaining, they said.  So, I gave in and ditched it.  All that matters is that the end is finally here, so let’s celebrate with sandwiches, or wraps.  Did you just hear the dull thud after I said that?  Yeah, it’s there, an apropos response to sandwiches after 2 years of jotting down this long, drawn out memory.

Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Garlic Greek Yogurt Ranch "Mayo"Sloppy and blurry, but oh so good.

Man oh man oh man, I never thought I’d be ending this story with chicken salad sandwiches.  I wanted to make something spectacular, and I tried, and I failed…twice.  It was the most disgusting thing I’d ever put in my mouth. Then I felt sick again, so I gave up and made an easy chicken salad, which really isn’t much of a recipe, but it’s the best I can do for now.  Plus, I can sit and chop, so win-win.

Continue Reading Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Greek Yogurt Garlic Ranch “Mayo”, and The End….

Smashed Blueberry Lemon Loaf Cake and Part 21

June 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Fruit, Healthy | 89 Comments
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I forgot to add the baking powder.  This is why the loaf cake you see, which I made about a month ago, is flat on top.  It was still delicious and moist, but not something I wanted to put up here.  If you recall, I mentioned ‘so-so potential posts’ in my last post. This is one of them, but it’s such a delicious cake (or quick bread, since the method is similar), I didn’t want to hold it back based on aesthetics and making it again just for aesthetics (the last thing I need is more cake lying around – no willpower here.) would have been ridiculous.  We all make mistakes in the kitchen, and this is one of mine.

I annihilated my left wrist last week.  I’m okay outside of pain, a feeling of uselessness, and typing with one hand (poke typing).  If I hadn’t annihilated my wrist, you would be looking at and drooling over (one can hope, right?) a gorgeous, multi-layered cake loaded with texture and cool flavors – and topped with a candle, to celebrate 5 years of blogging.  Well, 5 years plus two or so weeks of blogging.  I can’t even be on time for my blogiversary.

Smashed Blueberry Lemon Loaf Cake made with Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Apparently, it was not to be, and now it’s my 5 year and three or so week blogiversary, so just one yipee.  Celebration over.  I’m sorry, but I’m in pain and I’m pissed.  I’m constantly injuring myself in such stupid ways and not being able to cook or bake is always a bummer.

Continue Reading Smashed Blueberry Lemon Loaf Cake and Part 21…

Peanut Butter Brown Sugar and/or Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal, plus the KA Mixer Winner, and Part 13A

June 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Breakfast, Fruit, Giveaway, Healthy, Jams/Jellies, Lunch | 47 Comments
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I don’t usually go for fads, trends or follow rules when it comes to food.  In fact, I don’t abide by any rules when it comes to food.  I’ve been known to bake pumpkin pies in June, and I know some people may argue this, but there is NO discernible difference between using fresh roasted pumpkin puree and canned.  I’ve tested it many times over the years..and no one..I mean NO ONE, could tell the difference between the pumpkin pie using canned pumpkin and the pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkin.  As long as the canned pumpkin is pure, with no additives, it’s fine.

There..I said it, and I didn’t want to wait until Fall to say it.

By the way, did you know most canned pumpkin puree is actually Butternut or Hubbard squash. or a variety of squash, not named pumpkin?  Yes, this includes the one that starts with L.

Back to trends and fads in the food blogosphere.  I have seen overnight oats all over the place for months now.  Normally, I’d steer clear, because, again, I’m not a trendy person and I don’t blog for traffic.  However, I need quick breakfasts because I don’t eat breakfast anywhere near as much as I should, and I’m sick of cheerios, toast or smoothies, when I do.

After seeing Barbara’s (of Barbara Bakesovernight oatmeal with berries, I decided I really needed to give this a shot.  I also decided to blog it because I didn’t bake or cook anything for the KA Stand Mixer winner announcement, and Part 13…ummm…13A.  I don’t like putting up posts without something tasty and visual in them.

This is a food blog..well, food journal, you know.

That said, no pretty jars for these overnight oats, since you will be using up the peanut butter at the bottom and around the sides of an almost empty peanut butter jar, so everything goes into the almost empty peanut butter jar.  If you want to make it look nice for serving to someone(s), spoon it into pretty glasses or bowls..like I did for photos.  BUT, off of my blog, it’s getting eaten straight from the jar, then bye-bye jar – into the recycle bin!

This is not a completely healthy version, but if you want to add protein powder, flax, chia seed. hemp, swamp goo, motor oil..or whatever, go ahead – no rules.

Well, there is one rule, but it’s a general rule to get the right consistency..and that rule is 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid, plus extras of your choice.  If you want it thicker, add more oats.

Here’s my version.

Overnight Refrigerator Peanut Butter – Brown Sugar Oatmeal with Jelly or Chocolate
About 2 servings
1 almost empty jar of peanut butter (about 1/4 cup peanut butter left in jar)
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats (I tried both and preferred the quick oats, but if you like more ‘chew’, choose the old-fashioned oats)
2  to 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk or any milk you prefer (skim, soy, rice, almond etc)
1/2 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt or 1/2 cup heavy cream steeped with vanilla bean scrapings and pod (pod removed after steeping, of course)
fruit or jam/jelly/preserves of your choice and/or chocolate chips, chunks (optional)..I even added chocolate ganache to the bottom of one glass.  No rules!  You can go healthy or decadent, or both!

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Dump the oats in the almost empty peanut butter jar.  Sprinkle the dark brown sugar evenly on top of the oats.  Stir together the milk and yogurt or steeped cream, then pour on top of the oats and dark brown sugar.  If you’re adding chocolate chips or chunks, add now. Put the cover back on the peanut butter jar, tightly, and shake it vigorously.  You’ll be stirring it come morning, so this is just a preliminary ‘shake’ to get the oats soaked and dissolve the brown sugar.

2.  Put the covered jar in the fridge overnight,  The next morning, open up the jar and stir it all together, digging the peanut butter up from the bottom and around the sides.  Stir in fruit if you like – raspberries would be great, or swirl your favorite jam, jelly or preserves into it.   If you prefer your oatmeal warm, give it a nuke in the microwave for a minute or two.  Grab a spoon and dig in!  Throw out the jar when you’re done..my favorite part next to eating it.

Note - I stirred extra peanut butter into the oats after they soaked overnight, only because I’m a peanut butter freak.  It doesn’t need extra, but it doesn’t hurt if you’re a freak too.  Also, I topped it off with some fresh, whipped cream and chocolate.  If you want it topped, but healthier, use Greek yogurt.

Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats (I tried both and preferred the quick oats, but if you like more ‘chew’, choose the old-fashioned oats)
1 to 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (taste)
1 cup whole milk or any milk you prefer (skim, soy, rice, almond etc)
1 tablespoon dark cocoa
1/4 cup chopped chocolate

DIRECTIONS:
1. Stir together milk and cocoa powder until uniform.

2.In an empty jar..like a mason jar, dump in oats, dark brown sugar, chocolate milk and chopped chocolate. Shake the jar vigorously and set in fridge overnight.

3. Eat right out of jar. I like to microwave it for a few seconds to melt some of the chopped chocolate. Enjoy!

————————————–

Now to Part 13A (Yes, 13A, I’m determined to get this memoir finished in 14 parts, so I’m cheating) of Bad Boy First Love.  If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE,  Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, and Part 12 is HERE.

The month I had left with him before the two-week separation was so much fun,  things about it still make me laugh to this day.  For one, I finally saw him drunk.  It was 4th of July, and a bunch of his friends got together in an empty parking lot to party and shoot off fireworks.  I brought one of my friends, who was now completely ensconced in a full-fledged friendship with J and one of his brothers, the grunge guy, one I call P.

Empty parking lots were a big thing in his town, no matter how small or large the gathering. They even had different nicknames for each one.

For instance, “Meet me at The Barber Pole” meant the parking lot across the street from a barber shop with a spinning pole in front.  I soon knew each lot, via the nickname for it, very well.

I’d already gotten to know his friends and family well.  One of my friends and I spent most of that summer hanging out with J and one of his brothers, whether or not Dreamboat was around.

I can’t believe I put tis photo up.  Yeah, I know what it looks like.

He had two younger brothers, one a year older than me, one a year younger than me, and they looked nothing like him. Dreamboat was the golden boy – his looks coming from his Mother, who was of German descent.  His father was a sweet, Italian man, and his brothers were dark-haired and brown-eyed like him.

They looked nothing like each other, either.  The one who was older than me was about the same height as Dreamboat, but that height came with a slouch and a generous helping of grunge movement chic.  He had a faint ‘stache of soft hair on his upper lip because he wasn’t old enough or hairy enough to grow a full one yet.  The brother younger than me was shorter than the both of them and had a head of thicker, slightly curly hair.  He was a metrosexual..rarely a hair out-of-place and always dressed well – the scent of Giorgio Armani wafting from his pores.

They looked up to Dreamboat in a way that was kind of rare in sibling dynamics, at least in my world.  They adored and respected him, but at the same time – feared him as you would a parent if you did something wrong.

They called me ‘sistah-in-law’. It was cute.

SO, that night, Dreamboat got drunk – super drunk. thoroughly shnockered.

He had a very cool and calm disposition, never raised his voice to me, never out of control in any way, shape or form – BUT, on this 4th of July, once blitzed, he was all over the place, and it was fun…I couldn’t help but enjoy my pickled Dreamboat.

He was always affectionate publicly (PDA!), he didn’t care what people thought, but because he was drunk, he was almost slobbering me, hanging all over me like a dead weight.  I could barely converse with anyone.  I was laughing, but relieved when he pulled me away from the crowd to talk in a wooded area off to the side.  He pushed me up against a tree..kissed me for a few minutes, then leaned back a bit, just looking at me.  A very serious look came over his face, and although he was 10 sheets to the wind, he sounded completely sober when he said this..

“I don’t want you to leave me, please don’t go.”

I reassured him instantly..”It’s only two weeks, baby..we’ll have the last three weeks of August togeth…”  He interrupted me..

“No, I don’t want you to go to Boston.  I mean, I want you to go to college..but locally.”

Huh?

I didn’t know how to respond because I had thought about that myself.  It was too late, though.. I’d already changed colleges to be closer to him, and everything was paid for and set.

Double Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal (with melty shards of chopped chocolate)

Double Chocolate Oatmeal with melting chocolate shards 

He nestled his face in between my shoulder and neck, and mumbled into my collarbone..

“I can’t stand the thought of not seeing you for months at a time.”

He was like a child – so vulnerable, I’d never seen him like this before. I wanted to hold him forever, keep him safe…soothe his heart.

I stroked his hair (god, I loved his hair) and whispered, “But you can come visit me anytime you want, and..”

He cut me off again…

“No, you’ll meet other guys..rich college guys, you won’t want me anymore.”

Was he kidding?  That would NEVER happen..I loved him with every inch of my body, heart and soul.  I could NEVER be with anyone else.  I told him this, but not in those exact words..body, heart and soul is too poetic – I don’t talk like that..

“I don’t want anyone else, baby..I can’t even fathom it.”

That was better.

He hugged me tight, but I could tell he still didn’t feel good about it.

We remained that way for a while, his face buried in my neck, squeezing me to him so tight, at some points I couldn’t breathe.  After about 15 minutes, the bark of the tree was starting to scrape my back.  I tried to wiggle into another position, but then felt pain.  The damn bark had scratched me since I was wearing a white sun dress with straps in the back.  I could feel the blood starting to ooze.

He was too wasted to tend to my latest injury, so I let him know what happened and suggested we go back to the parking lot.  He tried to tend to it, feeling awful, but instead we went back to his house with J, his brother, and my friend.  His parents had left for the shore with his other brother earlier that day..so after my friend patched me up, she took my car home, and I spent the night because he wanted me to.  He was out like a light in minutes.

While I watched him sleep…I tried to think of a way to tell my father I was going to change schools again..apply to NYU.  I couldn’t bear to be away from him for months at a time either.

Well..it didn’t work.

“NO, you’re going to school in Boston, and that’s it! ” my father shouted angrily when I tried to reason with him, “But, Dad, you went to NYU.”

He left the room.

OKAY..no Plan B here, this was sticking like super glue and no amount of arguing or begging was going to get me anywhere.

Dreamboat remembered what he said by the tree..it wasn’t 100% alcohol related, he really meant it, but in the light of day, minus the alcohol, he knew that was something he couldn’t ask of me.  He apologized, but I could see in his eyes that he was hoping I would tell him I’d stay.

A little over 2 weeks of more wonderful with him, later, he left for the shore, and I left for Florida with my friends and family.  The night before, I cried, but we would see each other in 2 weeks, so this wasn’t the end – yet.

I have to admit, I had a blast in Florida.  We hung out a lot with some guys (just friends) that my raven haired friend and I had met during X-Mas break of my junior year, who lived in a condo owned by one of their parents, year round.  Lots of partying, lots of cruising, lots of beach, and lots of climbing the fence and swimming in the condo pool at 3 or 4 am.  But, I still couldn’t wait to get home and start packing for the shore and my last 3 weeks with Dreamboat.  We spoke on the phone a few times, but we were always interrupted by my friend wanting to talk to his brother.

Creamy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Over Soft Chocolate Ganache

When we finally got home, packed up, and left for the shore the next day, around early evening, I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I drove so fast, my friends finally convinced me to let one of them drive the rest of the way.  They were right, I was too keyed up and anxious to see him.  As soon as we got there, around 8 pm, I fixed myself up and practically ran to the pier.  The one friend who accompanied me could barely keep up, and bitched about it plenty.

I was in a zone, and that zone was him..and only him..I had to see him, smell him, touch him, feel his lips and body against mine again.  He was my oxygen, my drug, the love of my life.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal made right in the Peanut Butter Jar!With Cocoa Nibs

That summer he was working on the most popular ride on the pier, second to the roller coaster, called The Enterprise.  This was a ride that started spinning horizontally, then lifted up slowly, until it was spinning round and round and you were upside down, a non-stop loop – one Dreamboat took me on the summer before that I hated because I don’t like being upside-down, unless my head is hanging off the edge of a bed, where it’s safe.  It also scared the crap out of me.  I felt like I was going to fall out, regardless of the closed car and how tight he held me from behind.

Gravity and I don’t mesh.

Naturally, there was not only a huge line for this the ride, but a throng of girls trying to get his attention.  As I approached the platform, he was running from car to car closing them shut.   He looked amazing, his hair was lightened and streaked by the sun, his lightly tanned skin accentuating his beautiful blue eyes.  New ‘summer muscles’ were accentuated, from working on the ride.

Suddenly I felt like I did the summer before, insecure, scared, nervous..worried he wouldn’t want me anymore.  We had been inseparable all year-long – in our own little world back in North Jersey, and now he was the ‘rock star’ again, but on a much bigger and more popular stage than the previous summers.

I tentatively stepped up on the first step of the platform, away from the line.  He saw me and came jogging over..grabbing my hand and pulling me the rest of the way up..hugging me, lifting me in his arms, then kissing me long and slow.  I heard a collective groan and a few curses from the girls as we put on our little show.

When we broke for a moment, he took my hand and walked me over to the booth so he could start the ride, and then we embraced outside the booth and kissed more, little sweet nothings and ‘I love you’s’ peppering the moment.  He was just as happy and excited as I was – the moment was perfect.  All of my worries disappeared -  just as fast as they had reappeared. I was bursting with joy, inside and out..I loved him so much it hurt.

He took both of my hands in his, and stood back..looking at me..his dazzling smile melting me to goo as usual.

“Wow, look at that tan, my beautiful girl.”  He said, and had still not had his eyes checked.

As usual, I morphed back into that shy, nervous 15-year old, again.  My voice was weird..

“You look awesome too, baby.” I whispered because I was positive I might squeak.

He kissed both of my hands in his.  This was getting even better.

THEN…

“Baby, there’s something I need to take care of tonight in Bricktown (a town about a half hour from his shore house).  I promised Andy (his friend from Part 4, with the nice girlfriend), I can’t get out of it.” He said, momentarily looking over my shoulder, which bothered me.

A slight chill came over me…all the warmth and happiness draining as I tried to register what he just said.  We hadn’t seen each other in a little over two weeks..what the f%^k??

He saw the look in my eyes and pulled me to him..kissing my cheek and squeezing me tight.  He pressed his lips against my ear and explained that there were some people giving Andy’s brother trouble and they needed to take care of it.  He didn’t want to bring me, it could be dangerous.

I couldn’t help it, the disappointment was so fierce, and the fear of him getting hurt, so chilling, that my eyes started to well up.

Dammit!

Remember how I told you nothing ever rattled him?  Well..there was a negative side to that.  When I became emotional or feisty, he treated it like it was no big deal and there was no reason for me to get so agitated, almost amused by my reactions.  It had happened a few times during my senior year of high school, but now it was more painful than ever.

For some reason, I couldn’t help thinking that all the girls watching him hug and kiss me were thinking how lucky I was and probably wished they were in my place, but little did they know..he was blowing me off..or at least that’s how I felt.

I started to pull away from him but he kept pulling me back.  The people on the ride were getting a bonus round of upside-down.

He took my face in his hands..looked deep into my eyes, trying to be serious since he knew his nonchalant reactions to my being upset with him, bugged me to end.

“If I get back early enough, I’ll come by and get you, ok ?  It’s no big deal, baby..we have lots of nights together after tonight”

He kissed me a dozen more times, but I didn’t feel any one of them.  How could he blow me off for some tough guy shit when we hadn’t seen each other in weeks?  Maybe there was a girl there he liked?

On top of soft chocolate ganache

 For the first time in our relationship, I opened the vault to my anger, and let it fly..

“Why can’t you stop being such a tough guy?  Why do you always have to be a f%^%ing hero?  Why do you always have to put your life in danger??” I said, a little too loudly.

I pulled away from him and walked away fast.  I knew the girls watching us were happy as pigs in shit now that it didn’t look good between us.

When I reached my friend, I grabbed her and pulled her with me.  Suddenly I heard a girl in the swarm of Dreamboat lust say to her friend..”Go over and talk to him, I think I saw him look at you!”

I stopped dead in my tracks and turned to see two relatively attractive girls continuing to plot their move on him.  I saw nothing but hot, blazing red.  I took a step toward them..

“Don’t even think about it!” I shouted, icily.

They both looked at me with surprise, as did my friend…totally shocked at what came out of my mouth.  One of the girls decided to pour fuel into my already raging fire;

“I don’t see a ring on your finger.”

That was it..I was in NO MOOD..

“No, but you will see one around your eye if you even try to get with him!”

OMG, what had come over me?  I was going completely Jersey on these girls.  This was a first.  I think some of Dreamboat’s friend’s girlfriends had rubbed off on me.

My friend yanked me away..as the girls continued to yell obscenities.  She had to pull pretty hard to get me to move..I was ready to rumble.  I was hurting and seething at the same time.

Once we got off the pier and onto the boardwalk..I started to cry…sob uncontrollably.  She consoled me as we walked back to the apartment, reminding me that I was PMSing, so I was probably overreacting.  Plus, he was not afraid of anything and strong, she reasoned, so if anything, the other party would be hurting.

It didn’t matter, I told her..strong and not afraid do not trump a knife or gun.

J and his brother, P, were waiting out in front when we got back to the complex..since our other friend’s boyfriend had driven up an hour after we did, and they didn’t want to disturb them.

My friend told them what happened as I rubbed my puffy eyes.  His brother hugged me…

“Awww, Sis, (short for sistah-in law), he’s crazy about you, trust me…there is something he needs to do.” P said, trying to assuage the situation.

Yeah..like his brother, who adored and feared him, would tell me the truth if he was in fact lying to me.  But it wasn’t just that..it was the worry I now had to endure.  What if he got hurt?  What if he was killed??  What if he hooked up with another girl???  Yeah, the latter seemed to worry me the most. Jealousy was eating me alive.

His brother then announced that their Mom had made her killer lasagna, so why not go back to his house and have some, so we could leave our other friend and her boyfriend alone for a while?  Of course my friend, who loved to eat and never gained weight, jumped at the offer.  I felt sick, but went anyway.  Great..I’ll be at his shore house……without him.

When we got there, his Mom was only too happy to feed us..well, them, since I couldn’t eat, I was too upset.  She also tried to soothe my worries…telling me she doubted there was anyone else he wanted more than me and she’d never seen him like this with a girl.

Her blue eyes, Dreamboat’s eyes, sparkled as she sipped some wine. and enjoyed having a daughter to talk to – she stroked my hair in a motherly fashion….

“I’m tellin’ ya…I’ve seen dozens of girls come and go, yaw the first one he’s evah fell hard faw,” she said, as she gave me a half hug, then tried to force feed me lasagna.

It helped, but I still couldn’t shake that icky feeling.  I couldn’t tell her about his ‘taking care of Andy’s brother’ deal, which was scaring me more and more as the clock ticked away.  There was no need to make her worry too.

Swirled with raspberry jam

She suggested we stay the night.  Since his father only came up for long weekends, due to work, she insisted my friend and I sleep in their bed and she would sleep on the couch.  She was in a good mood.. excited because they were going to Atlantic City that coming weekend.

After hanging out for a while, watching movies and playing some board games (as I desperately hoped he would suddenly walk through the door, the later it got), we finally went to bed around 2 am.

Surprisingly, sleep came fast.  In what seemed like minutes, I was jolted awake from my deep slumber, as if someone had dumped a pitcher of ice-cold water on my head.  I heard the backdoor creak open.  He was just getting home..it was almost 5 am.

Part 13B coming soon.

Now to the winner of the KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer!  I really wish I could give everyone who entered one of these mixers.  I promise, there will be more great giveaways coming soon!  Thank you all for entering!

The Random Number Generator decided that Candace, who’s comment is #224, is the winner!

Congratulations, Candace! I will be sending you an email so you can choose a color and give me your mailing info.  As soon as I get it, it will be sent out to you ASAP.  If there is no response from you within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

One more thing – I’d like to thank Bonnie, of Bonnie Banters, for nominating me for a Food Stories Award!  Again, I’m incredibly flattered!  Since I was nominated late last month, and have already passed on 5 nominations…I’ll throw in another random fact about me.

When I was a child..having had the luxury of seeing several Broadway shows, and listening to my father’s collection of Broadway soundtracks..I decided I wanted to be a Broadway singer.  I used to stand on my front door step and belt out tunes like Tomorrow, Memory, One etc.  There was one small problem, I couldn’t sing.  My poor neighbors.

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Crunchy Coconut Lime Chicken Strips (or nuggets) for SRC, and Part 9

April 9, 2012 at 11:58 am | Posted in Appetizers, Dinner, Poultry, SRC | 65 Comments
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Crunchy Coconut Lime Chicken Strips with Spicy Yogurt Dipping Sauce

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog, Edesia’s Notebook  (love the name) authored and photographed by Lesa.  For the first time since I joined, I didn’t have the urge to grab some gorgeous dessert, which Lesa has plenty of, and play with it.  Instead, the same thought kept going through my head.

Just.make.dinner.

You don’t often see posts where I just make dinner, nothing fancy, nothing outrageous, nothing you would only make for a special occasion.  It’s not that I don’t have a decent amount of simple recipes, but I just felt the need to cook dinner and blog it.  I chose her Crunchy Lemon Chicken.

Of course, I ended up futzing with it, because I truly believe it’s nearly impossible for me not to futz with recipes.  I cut each breast into strips, used limes instead of lemons, and added soy sauce and garlic to the marinade.  I also added dessicated coconut to the panko bread crumbs and beat the eggs with coconut water for the breading station.  Add to that a few other minor alterations, like the baking time and temperature, and there you have it.

Otherwise, it’s just dinner, and it was delicious.  I think these are the crunchiest, most delicious chicken fingers I’ve ever had.  Kids would go berserk over these.  Just my completely unbiased opinion.

Even though they were flavorful enough as is, I decided to made a dip to go with them – what I call a garbage dip, where you rummage through your fridge and cabinets and just throw something together.  It was interesting and tasty,  (it looks kind of gross in the photos..like Thousand Island dressing that sat out too long, doesn’t it?), but, again, the chicken fingers had so much flavor, it really wasn’t needed.

Crunchy Baked Coconut Lime Chicken Strips with Spicy Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce.

Now to Bad Boy First Love Part 9.  If you’re reading this for the first time, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, and Part 8 is HERE.

Between the kissing, hugging, talking and staring into each other’s eyes (I didn’t laugh or look away once, for the first time in my life.  His eyes were so blue and clear in the dark, I can still picture it perfectly to this day), for hours, it was absolutely, unequivocally, the best.night.of.my.life.

Soon the sky started to lighten a bit, and I was exhausted.  So much raw emotion had been released in less than 24 hours, so many highs and lows.. the wine and beer certainly playing a part in that.  I couldn’t prevent the constant yawning, no matter how hard I tried . BUT, I wanted this night to last forever.  I wanted to fall asleep in his arms, right there..even if we were to wake up to harsh sunlight, screaming kids, the smell of suntan lotion and beach balls landing on us.  He held me for a while as I started to fade, then gently kissed me awake, stroking my hair.

“I think we better get you home, sweetheart – you’re starting to crash” he said sweetly.

“Huh? No..I’m awake.. just resting my eyes!” I lied.

The above is my usual line when someone wakes me up, whether in person or by phone.  No idea why I always say that, and still do to this day, as if it’s a bad thing to admit I’m falling asleep or that they woke me up from a deep sleep.  I’m strange that way.

On our drive back to my luxurious penthouse, he suddenly pulled over.  I was so busy staring at his beautiful profile that I hadn’t even noticed the scuffle going on between 4 guys, one of them apparently being ganged up on by the other three in a somewhat dark, out-of-the-way area near the beach.

One of the three was holding what looked to be a baseball bat, but he was leaning on it.  Maybe they were fighting over a late night-early morning baseball game that just ended?  Of course I said that to him, feeling like a total idiot once the words left my lips.

Crunchy Baked Coconut Lime Chicken Strips with Spicy Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce | Parsley, Sage and Sweet
He looked at me calmly and said, “I’ll be right back”, like he was going to get me a soda or something..not like he was about to play vigilante.  I was terrified. I reached over and touched his arm..

“No, don’t..please, let’s just go.” I pleaded, suddenly terrified.

He smiled and kissed my cheek, “I’ll be right back.” He said, again, calmly.

OK, he meant business.

Nothing rattled this guy.  I heard the trunk open and close.  I watched in the rear view mirror as he pulled something out.  Upon further inspection, it looked like a tire iron.  He walked toward this scuffle like it was no big deal – such confidence, completely void of fear, I thought.  Now I was really scared, but in a strange way, it turned me on.  West Side Story was about to come to life, minus the singing and dancing, and I was slightly turned on..what the hell was wrong with me?

Oh, I remember, I liked bad boys, and this was most certainly bad boy behavior, but he was a good bad boy, he was going to protect someone.  Then the thought of him getting really hurt brought back the fear.  I opened the window and called out to him meekly.  He didn’t hear me, but I couldn’t hear me either since my voice was shaking a little and I think I squeaked.

I watched intently as he walked up to them and stood in front of the victim, protecting him from harm,  He still looked calm, but so damn tough.

I was excited again.

I couldn’t hear what they were saying outside of my now even sexier guy commanding them to “‘Keep walking” when the bullies started to back off after trying to get tough with him and apparently not succeeding.  Tire iron > baseball bat.

Then they came forward again and I couldn’t take it anymore…he was going to get hurt!  I do have to admit I liked how he didn’t back up, not even one inch, when they came toward him.

Just as I was about to open the car door so I could run over and fling myself in front of him, he pushed one of them in the chest.  I was shocked to see the guy stumble back quite a ways and fall when it seemed like such a light push, with one hand, no less.  They took off.  Wow, that was too easy. I guess they realized that if he could push that lightly and send the guy back that far and on his ass, one swing of the tire iron could be pretty fierce.  Then again, I didn’t hear what was said, so that probably played a part too.  It didn’t matter, there was no way he was going to let three guys beat up on one and that made me want him even more.  I actually trembled, in a good way, when I realized that nothing scared him.


He walked back to the car with the victim.  Turns out, after an introduction, the kid, who couldn’t have been more than 16 (well..a little younger than me..shhhh) worked in one of the booths on the pier and he knew him well.  The kid got into the car and couldn’t stop thanking Dreamboat.  I was in awe of how cool, calm and collected Dreamboat remained, as if he simply bought the kid a slice of pizza and there was no need to make anything of it.

Apparently, this kid owed a little money to one of the guys and that guy brought along his two friends and a bat to collect, when this kid couldn’t have weighed more than 120 lbs soaking wet.

“No problem. I don’t care what you owe him, if he can’t collect on his own, he’s weak. Let me know if they ever give you a hard time again, okay?” Dreamboat said, again, calmly.  How did he continue to remain so cool after that? I thought, as I stared at him adoringly.

The guy was an ‘effin chickensh*t according to Dreamboat.  Damn, he grew sexier by the minute!  If I didn’t marry this guy one day, they may as well move me in with a horde of cats because no one would ever compare to him - no one.

Once wee dropped the kid off, and we were alone again, I couldn’t keep my hands off of him..I hugged and kissed him as he drove.  I was even more crazy about him than before, and frankly, I didn’t think that was possible.  I thought I had already reached the apex of love, longing, lust – or whatever you want to call it, with him, but, apparently, that wasn’t the case and it was only going to get better.

When he pulled up to my mini ‘party central’ apartment complex (there were parties still going on and the place was hopping..at 5:30 am), after about a 20 minute goodbye (our goodbyes would become legendary, to us, that is) I reached to pick up a little purse I had brought with me and left on the passenger seat floor.

Cut to 6 months prior..during my sad junior year of high school.  My friend bought me one of those white button pins with an I HEART Dreamboat on it – aka I LOVE plus his real name, when we were at the mall one night.  I always kept it in my purse, for no reason other than I did HEART him and being a little superstitious, felt that maybe it might bring us back together again (like the cup holder!).

I bet you can guess what happened next.

I forgot that I had opened the purse before getting out of the car to walk, well, trip over my own feet, to the beach, to grab a few orange and cinnamon tic-tacs.  The button came flying out of my open purse and landed right on his lap.

I wanted to die.

He picked it up and looked at it, not saying anything for about a minute.  Why, why, why?  Now he would think I was some obsessive, stalker child!  Why would a supposed 18-year old be carrying something like that around? 

Maybe there was a slight chance he was illiterate?  I had never wished someone to be illiterate that desperately, at that moment.  I could teach him to read, kissing him every time he read a word correctly!

Crunchy Baked Coconut Lime Chicken Strips with Spicy Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce.
I braced myself, my face was burning. I desperately wished I could to turn back the clock two minutes and do it over again, gently picking up the purse.  Maybe I could say it was another Dreamboat!  Yeah..I could hear myself now..trying to act all cool..

“Well, during our time apart I just so happened to meet a guy named Dreamboat, what a coincidence, huh?  I thought I was never going to see you again, so I thought I loved him, but I didn’t, and I forgot it was still in this purse .I rarely use this purse!” *confident flick of my hair*

He interrupted my momentary lapse of reasonable thinking..

“You shouldn’t have one of these unless you mean it” he said, a serious look in his eyes.

I DO MEAN IT!  I’m madly in love with you!

Instead…I told him the truth, without confessing my love for him.

“I know, D bought it for me, and I kept it in my purse hoping it would bring me luck and I’d see you again.”

Whoa, that was easy, why was I so freaked out about it?

He pulled me to him and hugged me tight, then whispered in my ear..

“I guess it worked then, like the cup holder.” Hellooogoosebumps.

I smiled, a wave of relief washing over me.  I decided I’d drop the age bomb the next night.

Part 10 coming soon.  I’m sorry I left you all with the same cliffhanger as last time, but I started this post before everything happened, and couldn’t finish it, which would have included that story, due to the current circumstances.  I didn’t want to give you all something half-assed.  I promise Part 10 soon!

Crunchy Coconut Lime Chicken Strips or Bites

Adapted from and Inspired by Lesa from Edesia’s Notebook
Yields about 4 servings

2 limes, zested and juiced
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped finely
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 chicken breasts (About 1 lb) cut into 1-inch wide strips.  Cut each strip in half to make ‘nuggets’.
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2/3 cup dessicated coconut shreds
3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to season flour
2 eggs, beaten with 4 tablespoons of coconut water (you can use coconut milk if you can’t find coconut water)
Oil spray, doesn’t matter what kind

DIRECTIONS:
1.  In a bowl, stir together lime juice, zest, light olive oil, ginger, light soy sauce, garlic and salt.  Add the chicken strips and stir until they’re completely coated with the marinade.  You can also pour the marinade  with the chicken strips, into a ziplock bag, which is what I did.  Marinate for 4 to 5 hours at the most..stirring the strips in the bowl of marinade or squeezing around the bag every hour to an hour and a half to insure even marinating.

2. Line a large baking sheet with foil sprayed lightly with oil. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in one bowl, the beaten eggs and coconut water in a second bowl, and the panko and dessicated coconut in a third bowl. Remove the chicken strips from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

3. Lift up each chicken strip and shake off some of the marinade so it isn’t overly-saturated  (I just ran two impeccably clean fingers down each strip, sliding off the extra marinade). Coat each chicken strip in flour, knocking off the excess, then dip and coat well in the egg mixture and then dredge it in the panko - dessicated coconut mixture, pressing it onto each strip. Place each chicken strip on the oiled baking sheet and continue until all chicken has been coated.

4.  Lightly spray some oil on the breaded chicken strips, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  IMPORTANT – Do not let them sit on the baking sheet once out of the oven.  Transfer them to a rack if not eating within a few minutes, or the bottoms will get soggy.

Spicy Yogurt Dip
1 cup greek yogurt
2  to 3 tablespoons Asian chile-garlic sauce
1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS|:
1.  Mix all the ingredients together, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend.

If you get a chance, please click on the blue frog below to see all the amazing dishes recreated by Group A of The Secret Recipe Club.  Also, click on over to Edesia’s Notebook for some fantastic sweet and savory recipes!

Crunchy, Baked Coconut Lime Chicken Strips with Spicy Yogurt Dipping Sauce

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Berries + Yogurt + Flour, Eggs, Butter, Vanilla and Sugar = Berry Swirl Yogurt Cake

August 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Fruit | 67 Comments
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Double Berry Swirl Yogurt Cake

Before we moved from Manhattan to the town I grew up in, we spent a few years in another town while our new house was being renovated.  We lived a a huge apartment complex surrounded by vast, beautiful meadows, streams filled with tadpoles, froggies, fish and all things cool to a curious, young, nature loving girl.  I won’t regale you with the huge highway overpass that roared above us over the parking lot or the main roadway with a constant barrage of passing cars less than a mile away.  Instead, I will keep us in the place where nature loomed and bloomed with not much time left.

Double Berry Ribbon Yogurt Cake
My fondest memory of this Garden apartment complex of Eden, nestled within the asphalt, was the wild blackberry and raspberry bushes hidden in one small area tucked between the pussy willows, cattails, and thick brush.  We would sit in the middle of this circle of bushes and pick plump, juicy, berries for hours, our lips, fingers and shirts stained purple and red.  I took this for granted.  Surely there’s wild bushes like this everywhere, right?  When we moved into our new house, I figured I’d have a whole backyard of them!

Unfortunately, the beautiful meadows and streams were eventually demolished to build a huge, modern, state of the art, high school and more apartment complexes, but we were already moving out when this began.  Once we moved into our new home, I forgot about wild berry bushes.  I loved cooking, but basic stuff since I was too young to think about or dabble in preparations calling for berries, outside of fresh berries topped with cream.

Cut to several years later.  Once I hit the big 1-4, I’m baking and cooking on a pretty regular basis, thanks to a few cookbooks gifted to me by my grandmother.  Within a year or two, I’m inhaling all cookbooks like oxygen, pouring through gourmet magazines, reading a few chapters of Larousse Gastronomique nightly and watching  hours upon hours of Jacques Pepin showing me every cooking technique known to man (at that time).  I watched numerous cooking shows, but Jacques was my mentor.

I was falling madly in love with all things food, all things sweet and savory, all things plated and lovely.

This food exploration renewed my intense love of two berries with a deep fervor, two berries that I used to hang with and know very well, raspberries and blackberries.  I wanted to bake with them, cook with them, make sauces with them, jam them, jelly them, you name it.  However, no wild and free berry bushes to be found.  My berry passion led to many trips to the market, but was diluted with pints of mediocre, somewhat squashed berries in plastic containers with holes.  If I didn’t act quick, they’d morph into plastic containers of white, green or gray fuzz, forgotten in the back of my refrigerator fruit bin.

You never know how good you had it until you want to cook and bake with it.

                             Like snowflakes, no two berry swirl cakes are alike

Cut to present.  A friend of mine attended a wedding in Seattle last summer.  One morning he called at the end of his daily workout and run.  As he was walking through the parking lot of the hotel he was staying at, he let out an audible ‘wow’ type of gasp.  He told me there were tons of wild blackberry bushes around the parking lot, loaded with some of the biggest blackberries he’d ever seen.  He took a photo with his cell and sent it to me.  I let out an audible ‘wow’ type of gasp as I listened to him eat those gorgeous berries in the photos.

“Wow, theesh are the jooshiest blackberriesh I’fe ever tayshted in my life!”

This was one of the photos he sent me.  Nice lookin’ Seattle wild blackberries!

The rest of his trip led to occasional phone calls and texts about how wherever he went, there were always blackberry bushes close by.

I contemplated a permanent move to Seattle, but only for a second.  Although it’s an awesome city in a beautiful and bountiful state, I need a little more sunshine in my life.  My ‘Seattle Me’ image contained tons of buckets in lieu of a purse, picking blackberries from every bush I saw, so much so that I would have to balance an extra bucket on my head, not unlike the Chiquita chick and her bananas.

My history with yogurt is a bit different.  Okay, a bit is an understatement.

I hated it.

Yogurt, to me,t was a bunch of annoying, little plastic containers that dominated our fridge since my mother ate it every.single.day.  They would come tumbling out and hit the floor while I was reaching for sandwich fixings or pudding cups, some cracking open on impact – white, fruity goo all over the floor. I would actually gag while I was cleaning it up.   I hated, Hated, HATED how it smelled.

How could she eat this crap?”,  I’d mutter faintly under my breath.

Don’t let these skinny swirls of berry fool you, because…..

My freshman year of college, there was a little truck on campus one day that was just giving yogurt away - Dannon yogurt.  One late night, craving something sweet, but nothing but our free Dannon haul in our mini-fridge, I had no choice but to confront my yogurt demons.  I was so hungry, I didn’t care..I was going to eat it.  One spoonful and BOOM, an explosion of creamy and tangy with sweet strawberries swirled throughout, sort of like pudding or custard, and I love puddings and custards.

Yogurt, why did I hate you so for so long? 

Well, now I’m obsessed, and I eat a container almost every day, and bake with it quite often.  As mentioned above, it’s in this cake, the Greek style, which has been my new favorite for a while now.

When I decided to take advantage of an abundance of gorgeous, plump blackberries and raspberries I found at the farmer’s market, I started with a blackberry swirl pound cake recipe I’d bookmarked at Martha Stewart’s site  (wow, Martha is making a lot of appearances on my blog as of late).

Naturally, I wasn’t going to leave raspberries out and, of course, I was probably going to change something.  That something was my former foe, yogurt, yogurt instead of the sour cream called for. I had the urge to experiment, and I did,  I mixed each berry puree with some of the cake batter prior to swirling them in, hoping for the best.  Wow, this gave me thick ribbons of berry, instead of thin strips of berry, within the cake, exactly what I was hoping for.  Success!

Make this cake..I promise you will love it, even if you don’t like berries and/or yogurt.  I converted someone who hated both, that’s how good it is.

….when you mix some of the batter into the berry purees before spooning it on and swirling it into the batter, then cut into a slice vertically, this is what you get.  Thick ribbons of berry.

Double Berry Ribbon/Swirl Yogurt Pound ‘like‘ Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart, with my revisions
Makes one 9-inch by 5-inch loaf cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan (or 1/2 cup neutral oil, like canola)
3 ounces blackberries (about a scant 3/4 cup)
3 ounces raspberries (about a scant 3/4 cup)
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt, room temperature

NOTE:  I split the berry puree-batter mixes in half, using half of each for swirling into both layers of plain batter.  I did this to make two cakes.  Using all the berry purees in one cake is ideal, but either way is delicious!

DIRECTIONS:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 1 tablespoon sugar. Wipe out processor and puree raspberries with 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Pour/scrape into separate bowls and set aside (you can strain them into the bowls if you don’t like the light bite of seeds that do not break down).  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter (or oil) and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with Greek yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

3.  Stir two to three tablespoons of the cake batter into the bowl with the blackberry puree until uniform.  Stir two to three tablespoons of the cake batter into the bowl of raspberry puree, until uniform.

4. Pour half the plain batter into the pan and dot with 1/2 of the blackberry puree -batter and half the raspberry puree-batter. It will seem like it takes over all the plain cake batter, but don’t worry, it all works out in the end. Swirl/marble lightly using a skewer or knife.  Top with remaining plain batter and dot with remaning raspberry and blackberry batter as you did with the first layer. Again, swirl the puree-batter mixes into the plain batter – pushing a skewer or knife all the way to the bottom for a full marble.

5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing.

Double Berry Swirl Yogurt Cake
This cake is entered in the #cakelove bloghop! Come VOTE and/or enter your cake!

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