What’s In A Name? (Sneaky Sauce)

Salmon with Sneaky Sauce

Recipe titles are so descriptive now. When I first started cooking, they were pretty generic. Roast Beef. Mashed Potatoes. Gravy. Corn. These days, dinner goes through metamorphosis before I even step in front of the stove.

Initially, I was a bit put off by prolific titles, especially ones listing Every. Single. Thing. (Blame it on bacon, Nutella, and SEO.) But, over the years I’ve come to appreciate their point-blank accuracy. I tend to carry around a mental inventory of my fridge and pantry (anyone?) and ‘specific’ recipes allow me plan dinner more efficiently. Very helpful.

I also like the ‘fun’ ones. “Moroccan Meatball Marvel.” “Killer Chocolate Parfait.” Names like that leave something to the ol’ imagination.

In a fit of introspection, I wondered if a recipe title mindset could be applied to my ‘goals’ for 2014? I’m not much of a goal-setter (which explains a lot of things) and up until now I’ve been content to float along in a sea of nondescript to-do’s: Write a book. Compose a song. Take some photos. Clean house…

Truthfully, I’m more proactive than that. Being laid back has its merits, but time has a way of sneaking up on (or away from) me. I need to write a specific recipe for my life — or at least an imaginative title.

Progress Mixed With Playfulness.

By the way, I wasn’t trying to be sly making reference to ‘Sneaky Sauce.’ There really is such a thing. (Well… that’s what we call it at our house.) I’ve slathered it on everything from pork chops to pan-seared salmon with rave reviews!

For a truly tasty BBQ sauce with a lil’ sneak-up-on-you heat, The Unorthodox Epicure has just the thing: East Texas Smoky Barbecue Sauce. (Thanks, Adam!)

Sometimes the name says it all.

Enjoying kitchen evolutions,

~ Kim

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Pomegranate Sauce

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Pomegranate Sauce

After driving 3,000 miles a week during the trucking years, driving 3 miles to the grocery store is a delight.  Plus, the merits of shopping local cannot be overstated.

The idea of pomegranate sauce began teasing my foodie imagination when I saw a lovely display of crown-topped orbs in the produce section. I’d never eaten one before (better late than never), so I brought one home and munched on a few arils while I sieved, pressed, and extracted. I soon discovered that one pomegranate doesn’t yield much juice. Back to the store for another one.

But, those intriguing ruby-like gems had worked their magic on me and I found myself eating more than I was extracting. After a third trip to the store, I came home with a bottle of Pom Wonderful. (Those folks do a marvelous job of getting juice out of those lil’ buggers!) Homemade is my preference, but I come from the “whatever works” camp, too.

Then I simmered and savored until success (and sauce) was achieved. The cake is a good ol’ standby from 30+ years ago — source unknown and recipe considerably tweaked since then. And, trips down memory lane don’t require any driving either.

Flourless Chocolate Cake 3

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 c. baking cocoa (I used Nestle’s Toll House Cocoa)

6 Tbsp. butter, softened

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1/2 Tbsp. whiskey (*see note below)

2 Tbsp. strong coffee, cooled

3/4 c. heavy cream

2 extra large eggs

Pomegranate arils for garnish (if there are any left)

(*May omit whiskey and increase vanilla to 1 tablespoon.)

Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter the bottom of a 9″ cake pan. Have a baking sheet with 1″ sides and a kettle of boiling water at the ready.

In a heavy saucepan, combine cocoa, butter, sugar, vanilla, whiskey (if using), and coffee. Whisk over medium heat until sugar  dissolves; remove from heat. Gradually whisk in cream until blended; set aside to cool.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer for 4 to 5 minutes or until color is pale yellow and volume is tripled. Gradually whisk eggs into cooled chocolate mixture.

With a spatula, scrape batter into prepared cake pan. Set cake pan on the baking sheet, place in the oven, and pour boiling water onto the baking sheet to a depth of one-half inch. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until cake is set.

Remove cake pan to a cooling rack (I leave the baking pan/water in the oven); cool completely. Refrigerate cake (covered) for 4 hours or overnight. Slice into wedges and drizzle with Pomegranate Sauce.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.

Flourless Chocolate Cake 1

Pomegranate Sauce

(adapted from this recipe)

1/2 c. pomegranate juice

1/2 c. red wine (I used Briar Patch Black Cherry Wine; see below)

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tbsp. honey

3″ stick cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until mixture boils; reduce heat to low.  Simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until sauce is reduced by half and is thickened and syrupy. Cool to room temperature before serving.

About the Black Cherry wine…

We’re fortunate to have a small local winery with a huge sense of humor nearby. (Click on the photo below or like their FB page here.) Stop by the Briar Patch and say hi to Jim and Linda. Good folks, good fun, good wine!

Black Cherry Wine

Well it’s time to enjoy a slice of cake, so I’ll leave you with two words:

Shop local!

Enjoying pomegranate success (at last),

~ Kimby

A Quick Post and a Quick BBQ Sauce

Generally, I put a lot of time and thought into my posts, but our air conditioner quit at 4:00 this morning and the A/C guy isn’t here yet.

(In case you haven’t heard, Oklahoma’s temps have been in the 100’s for the past two months…)

Here’s what our inside temp reads now.

  (P.S.  It’s 10° “warmer” in my writing nook…)

Thankfully, I have a cool place to retreat to as soon as I’m done with this, and thankfully I planned a barbecue for dinner tonight.

Last night I made my Quick BBQ sauce and it was delish brushed over barbecued ham steaks.  (How does one spell BBQ correctly anyway?)

But patience, sweet ones, patience… it really is better the next day.

I also fooled around with my camera just for fun… :)

This is as basic as BBQ Sauce gets!

Quick BBQ Sauce

1/2 c. ketchup (I used Heinz)

3 Tbsp. honey

1/2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

(Optional add-in’s:  red pepper flakes to taste, a dash of hot sauce, a shot of whiskey)

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat; simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool, then store in the refrigerator.

Bring to room temperature before applying to grilled meats.

Brush sauce on during the last minutes of grilling and ENJOY!

Ooof… here’s what our temp was last time I looked, and it went up a degree after I uploaded the picture!

Enjoying the prospect of grilling… but not indoors…. gotta run!

~ Kim

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A Slice of Southern Sunshine… in Hawaii

If Spring isn’t coming quickly enough for you…

and Waikiki sounds mighty good about now…

Head on over to my Guest Post at Savour The Senses!

Last fall when Jenny invited me to join her “Featured Foodie Friday” series, I was ecstatic!  Not only does she have a sense of adventure outside of the kitchen (she recently made the transition from snowboard to surfboard!), Jenny also works at Morimoto Waikiki…

When you visit her blog, I hope you’ll spend time getting to know this delightful, talented young lady.

In the meantime, I invite you to join us for a slice of Southern sunshine… in Hawaii!

Aloha, y’all. :)

Enjoying a jump start on Spring,

~ Kim

My True Love Gave To Me…

It all started with a package of Portabellas…

And a trip to Lovera’s Italian Market

All, courtesy of The Man Of Few Words.

When it comes to gift-giving, he throws convention out the window.  (Gotta love a guy who knows nothing would thrill his wife more than quality ingredients and time to play with her food.)

This is one of the yummiest pasta sauces I’ve tasted recently, by it’s lonesome or served as a “side” with Portabella Pork Chops (which I’ll share in an upcoming post.)

Linguine with Gorgonzola Sauce

(adapted from the recipe on the back of the package)

8 oz. Dell’Alpe Parsley & Parmesan Linguine (or linguine of your choice)

2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 c. cream (I used half & half)

1/2 c. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cerignola and Castelvetrano olives (for garnish)

Prepare pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, heat butter and cream in a small saucepan.  Stir in Gorgonzola and Parmesan until melted.  (I left a few “chunks” of Gorgonzola…)

When pasta is al dente, drain and return to pan.  (Reserve some pasta water to thin the sauce, if desired.)  Pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with olives or what have you.  Serve immediately.

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An unexpected gift?  You bet!  I’ve learned to expect nothing less from my true love.

Wishing you peace, joy, and gifts that tickle your fancy,

~ Kim

Tickled Pink

The other night I was hungry for something simple and satisfying.  Ahhh… red potatoes with parsley and steamed cabbage with cream sauce … that ought to do the trick.  (Pardon me, my Irish is showing.)

One of the basic pleasures in life is cream sauce — white sauce — bechamel.  I generally whip up my own (with success), but I wanted something spectacular to top off my meal.  Mario Batali delivered.

(Not to my house, mind you… although, wouldn’t that be nice!)

After investing the time and “TLC” in Mario’s recipe (which was worth every second it took to produce this luscious, creamy, THICK sauce), I proceeded out to the deck to take pictures.

Wait a minute… the sauce looks pink.  (It wasn’t.)  PINK, I’m telling ya!

Was it picking up the hue from the potatoes?  Hmmm…  I adjusted angles and fiddled with the focus.

And then…

I looked up… and around.

Sunsets are the basic pleasure in life — pink bechamel and all.

Enjoying the Light,

~ Kim

A Chicken By Any Other Name

I like surprises, don’t you?  They keep life fresh and interesting, especially when it comes to relationships. ;)

But first, allow me to share an unexpected award from my lovely friend at Shirley’s Luxury Haven!

Shirley bestowed this award upon me recently (as well as the Versatile Blogger Award, which I’d previously received and passed along), so I’ll limit my acceptance to the “Cherry On Top Award” with grateful thanks for BOTH!  If you haven’t visited Shirley’s blog, please click on the link above and prepare to be pampered, amazed and delighted! 

Before passing along this award, I did some “research” and again found a variety of protocols to follow.  I’m not sure why they change along the way, but here’s what I found…

Answer this question: “If you could go back and change anything about your life, what would it be and why?”; Share your favorite photo (not necessarily food); Pass it on to 15…10…6… other bloggers; Tell 6…7…10…things about yourself, etc…

Instead, I hope you don’t mind if I make make up my own rules.  Here are five exceptional bloggers who truly put that “little bit extra” into all they do — hence the “Cherry On Top!” Please pass this onto bloggers who you feel do the same and include any or all of the above — or not.  Surprise!

1)  Isabelle At Home

2)  Basilmomma

3)  Cooking Healthy For Me

4)  The Culinary Lens

5)  ChopinandMySaucepan

Congratulations Isabelle, Heather, Ann, Mike, and Chopin & Mysaucepan — and thanks again, Shirley!  Your blogs keep me inspired, happy, cooking, and SURPRISED!

Okay, back to the topic at hand…

Back when the hubby and I were newlyweds (many moons ago), he surprised me by informing me that “chicken once a week” was often enough for him. (A surprise to this poultry lover!)  Seems he’d eaten a fair share of fowl in his bachelor days and he was ready for some meat and potatoes cookin’, ala yours truly.  No problem, though.  I’ve had free reign in the kitchen, as well as his respect and confidence in my ability to manage the grocery budget — and menus — at my discretion.  LOVE IT!  LOVE HIM!

Then one dark and stormy night…  I roasted a whole chicken.

Generally on such occasions, I’d “break it down” after dinner, freeze the leftovers and reintroduce them somewhere past Day 7 the following week.  (Or make separate meals to accommodate both of our tastes.)  The things we do for love!

But, it was late and I was tired, so I wrapped what was left of that delectable chicken and put it in the fridge.  I was also pressed for time for dinner prep the following night.  What to do…

The opposite of surprise in a relationship is familiarity.  It’s that lovely/loving quality that emerges over time, like the patina on a cherished piece of furniture or the hugged-thin spots on a favorite teddy bear’s coat.  Somehow, I just knew my man wouldn’t mind “Chicken Round Two” given the circumstances.

(It’s like those times when I’ve added an extra handful of breadcrumbs to a meatloaf or a couple of extra egg whites to an omelette) — he trusts my judgement and expects good food!  Plus, I had a hankerin’ for something chicken-y and — well — the only trick was getting around the title.  (I wasn’t being deceptive… just “creative”…  make that familiar.)

How do you not mention chicken, as in: “Sweet-Sour Chicken?”

Sweet-Sour Chicken

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I used leftovers…)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 sweet yellow onion, diced

1 (20 oz.) can of pinepple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)

2 T. oil (I used part sesame oil/part olive oil)

Sweet-Sour Sauce (recipe follows)

Hot cooked rice

For the sauce:

1 T. reserved pineapple juice

1 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. Turbinado sugar

1/2 c. soy sauce

1/4 c. white vinegar (apple cider vinegar is good, too)

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1/2 t. ground ginger (or freshly grated ginger if you have it)

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare the main ingredients first.  (You’ll want them ready to wok and roll when your oil gets hot. :)  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and seasonings; heat until boiling.  Combine the reserved pineapple juice (1 T.) with cornstarch; whisk into sauce.  (Keep whisking — it thickens fast!)  Remove from heat when mixture becomes thickened and bubbly; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil (whatever combo you choose) in a wok or large skillet.  Add peppers and onions; sauté until the veggies are nearly cooked; push to the side.

Add pineapple tidbits; allow them to caramelize a bit before giving everything a good stir.  Place cooked, cubed chicken over the top.  At this point, remove the pan from the heat and cover — since the chicken was already cooked, it only needs to reheat.

When warmed to your liking, uncover and stir in sauce until everything is coated — or serve on the side if you like.  Ladle over hot cooked rice.  Chopsticks optional.

When my hubby dearest walked through the door that night and asked “What’s for supper,” I answered with a cheerful (and truthful), “Try this!” and gave him a taste.  His reaction…?

The Man Of Few Words aka Man Of Fewer Chicken Dinners said:  “This is really good!”

After the first helping, he dished up seconds.  After the second helping, he admitted to contemplating thirds!  (Which is very unlike him.)  When he got up from the table he asked, “So what did you say this stuff was called again?”

I grinned and replied:  “Stir Fry.” … ;)

Enjoying life’s little surprises,

~ Kim