Saturday, December 31, 2005

Weekend Dog Blogging -Week 15- Sleepy Time

Weekend Dog Blogging resumes with week number 15. Hosted by Sweetnicks.

Ziggy got his first airplane ride this Christmas holiday. For one of the most outrageous airline overcharges, it cost $80.00 each way for Ziggy to be housed in an under my seat carrier. No airline personnel had to do anything to facilitae this process except for the processing of my credit card for the $80.00 fee. Ziggy's own carrier occupied my already paid for leg room so what is this fee for? Simply, the right for him to go with us. I would like to also add that the airlines required a health certification done within 30 days of travel in order to comply with interstate and international movement of animals federal law. This was a vet bill of $65.00. We were never asked for this documentation during the whole trip.

Ziggy traveled very well. Without any sedatives or calming agents, he slept the whole way. Not a whimper or bark. I must admit that it was totally worth the airfare for Ziggy to go with us. He was the center of attention with all his cuddly, friendly love and affection. Best of all for him was the wide open yard for him to joyfully play.
T especially missed Ziggy as he hadn't seen him since last March.
More Sleepy Time

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Country Christmas

After a very loving, heartwarming and enjoyable week with family and friends, we are back in Los Angeles. We spent the week with my husband's family in North Carolina. My son and daughter also joined us making this an exceptional week.

I must admit it is nice sometimes to not have to be responsible for the menu planning and cooking. I ate and enjoyed. I regret that I didn't take many food related pitures so you'll just have to take my word for it that Christmas Day Dinner was fantastic. We had turkey, sweet potatoes with marshmellows, collard greens, dressing, gravy, sweet corn, baked salmon, dinner rolls, bread pudding and pound cake. Our Navy cook, T, sliced the turkey.
Moist and delicious after a night marinading.
Carved Turkey
The day after Christmas was spent at our cousin's home where we ate, drank and played many a round of Bid Whist. M and B did all the cooking and grilling.
Marinaded Grilled Beef
Grilled Chicken Wings
M's Holiday Cookies
Potato Salad
Cole Slaw
Smoked Pork loin
Smoked Tuna Dip

We also had the pleasure of spending a day in Greensboro where dinner was a wild game treat of stewed rabbit and BBQ venison ribs. Now keep in mind that though the presentation and picture may not have come out fancy, this meal was lip smackin'.
Stewed Rabbit

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

Knowing that all of us are so very busy during this time of the year, I want to offer my excuses now for possibly not being able to post for the next week. Many more gatherings of friends and family are planned and the time to dedicate to my blog will be limited.

I want to wish each and every one of you Happy Holidays, Peace in 2006 while we all offer goodwill to our fellow man.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Holiday Party At Ruth P's House

My neice, P., wanted to have a Christmas party at her paternal Grandmother's home. Ruth P loved everything Christmas. Over the years she accumulated boxes upon boxes of the most most unique and tastefull ornaments, figurines, stuffed animals and all other things Christmas. Ruth P passed away in May 2005 but her grandaughter wanted to display her collection in remembrance.

Anyone who had ever attended one of Ruth P's parties experienced an evening of warmth, excellent food and hospitality. In that P is not culinarily inclined, she called upon family and friends to help her in the kitchen. I had the pleasure of cooking a New Orleans Style Gumbo for 30 people. I adapted my recipe from one by Emeril Lagasse off the Food TV recipe web site. I increased the ingredients to serve 30.
Ready To Serve. For some reason, I missed taking a picture of the Gumbo as served over rice in a bowl. You'll just have to trust me that this Gumbo was jam packed with meats and so very good. Monkey bread was also served. Now I had to accomodate the palates of children and heat sensitive adults, so I limited the cayenne. At the end of the evening, this pot was nearly empty. Did I mention, this Gumbo was off the charts good.

See Flickr Photos for complete Photo Set

GUMBO- (Adapted from recipe by Emeril Lagasse- Food TV Network)
12 servings

3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup flour
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon Essence

Emeril’s Essence- Use only 1 tablespoon of this recipe for the Gumbo:
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon cayenne
5 bay leaves
8 cups clam juice or chicken stock
1 pound fish pieces (any white fish )
1 pound Andouille Sausage
1 can (28 ounce each) whole or diced peeled Tomatoes
4 lbs boneless chicken (thighs or breast or combination)
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound crabmeat canned or in shell or both
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Serve with:
File powder sprinkled over gumbo to thicken before serving (optional)
cooked white rice
chopped green onions

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, whisk in the flour. Stir the mixture constantly for 15 to 20 minutes, for a dark brown roux. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, Essence, cayenne, and bay leaves. Cook for 12 to 13 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are wilted. Add the stock and mix to blend with the roux. Add chicken and Andouille sausage. Simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fish pieces and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 15 minutes. Add the crabmeat, green onions and parsley and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the File` powder to thicken at the end.

Ladle the gumbo in a shallow dish. Place a heaping portion or two of the rice in the center of the gumbo. Sprinkle the green onions over top.

At this point, the roux has been made with the celery, onions, bell pepper and herbal seasonings added.
I added the Emeril Essence to the diced boneless chicken prior to adding to the pot.
In place of Andouille sausage, I used a smoked chicken with herb sausage from Trader Joes. Note the jar of Essence to the right of the sausage.
Canned Crab Meat.
For the White Fish, I used Orange Roughy.
Frozen Snow Crab and Shrimp
Fresh Parsley and Oregano
Simmering Goodness

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Who Stole The Cookie From the Cookie Bag?


Who stole the cookie from the cookie bag, guess who? He knew he was wrong but how could he resist Christmas cookies.

Weekend Dog Blogging- this time with food. Hosted by Sweetnicks

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Eleven Days Until Christmas

I pride myself in usually shopping early and having all my presents wrapped and ready for Christmas gift giving. For some reason this year, I am at a loss. I have not purchased a single gift and I have no clue what I would shop for if I even ventured walking into a mall, searching on-line or even browsing through a something for everyone type store like Costco.

This post has nothing to do with food other than my attempt to stimulate my creativity. In these times of so much need and charity, one would think maybe giving a donation in the name of a loved one would suffice. I would donate anyway, so saying a donation is in lieu of a gift wasn't (isn't) very safisfying to me.

I'm the only foodie in the family, so something for the kitchen won't work. Cash works for some and gift certificates for others. Ties, underwear, socks bath and body sprays, perfumes, gels or lotions are so blase and who doesn't have umpteen bottles of unopened shower gel already? Jewlry works for a few more, but what piece haven't I already given over the years?

Clothing? Then you have to worry about the size. I don't want to be responsible for anyone having to wait in the department store return lines after Christmas. Electronic gadgets? What doesn't any of my recipients already have?

I watched those QVC and the Home Shoping Network programs hoping for some ideas. Nothing was convincing even with easy pay.

Eleven more days til Christmas. This weekend I think I'm going to be one of those last minute shoppers hoping for the right gifts to land in my shopping cart. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

More Holiday Cookie Decorating

I was out town for the past week and thus unable to do any posting except for adding comments. Great time had. I attended one of the major conventions for my profession held in Las Vegas. Despite being in a town filled with many great food venues, I have no food pictures to share. No more to say about that.

Anyway back to the subject of my post,I spent today baking and decorating more cookies. They came out so nice, I just had to share.

These cookies were prepared for a Christmas party to be hosted by my neice. She requested simple sugar cookies with just some green and red sprinkles. I sort of went overboard.

See Flickr Photos for complete set

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Cookie Swap Roundup Part One and Two SHF/IMMB

Please take some time to check out the Cookie Swap Round-up, a joint SHF and IMMB event. There are some wonderful holiday cookie treats which make up a great reference source for the season's cookie baking.

See Part One (Sites A-K) at Domestic Goddess and Part Two (Sites L-Z)at Il Forno. They have done a fantastic job at compiling all these recipes and pictures.

Traveling With Ziggy- Seat With a View

Ziggy, just like most other dogs, loves to look out the window when we are going someplace in the car. Because he is so small he can't comfortably look out the window without falling to the side when I turn corners or stop- oops. While on one of our many excursions to the pet store, I came across this doggy car seat basket which hooks onto the front seat and provides the elevation he needs to look outside. I think it helped some. He didn't fight to get out of it which leads to me believe, it might be ok. I'll have to play around with the height to give him a better view.

Hosted by Sweetnicks.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blogging L.A.

Todays Weekend Calendar of the L.A. Times features an article on Blogging L.A. Three of our bloggers are noted as "...jewels among Los Angeles' thousands of blogs".
Big Lu at BBQ Junkie
Sarah at The Delicious Life
Professor Salt

Sunday, November 27, 2005

WDB #11- Balloons

G has a lot of fun playing with Ziggy. This weekends treat was to suspend two balloons from upstairs with fishing line and see what Zig would do. He barked and jumped at the balloons until he burst them both. Great fun had by all.

Another great WDB event hosted by Sweetnicks.

Friday, November 25, 2005

SHF/IMMB- Joint Virtual Cookie Swap

Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess, and Alberto at Il Forno this month are jointly hosting a Sugar High Friday and Is My Blog Burning event- "Joint Virtual Cookie Swap".

The holidays are a season for baking and what better than festive cookies to share with friends, family and co-workers. I decided on the cookie that is the center of my baking passion. The decorated sugar cookie. The cookies will bring out your creative side. With a pallet of colors to choose from, anyone can customize the cookie from this receipe for any occassion. Cookie cutters are available in all sorts of shapes and there are companies out there which can customize a cookie cutter just for you.

NO FAIL SUGAR COOKIES (from Kitchen Gifts)
6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Mix well.

Chill for 1 to 2 hours

Roll to desired thickness (I like ¼ inch) and cut into desired shapes. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. This recipe
can make up to 8-dozen 3" cookies.

Royal Icing (from Kitchen Gifts)

2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/4 cup water
About 2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon flavoring such as vanilla, lemon, orange or almond (optional)

It's easiest to make royal icing if you use a large electric mixer. You can make smaller quantities in
a small bowl and just stirring with a spoon.

Put confectioners' sugar, meringue powder and flavoring in mixing bowl. Start mixer and add water a little at a time until you get the desired consistency. It's best to keep it a little stiff at first and thin it later to pipe or fill.

Mix until smooth and shiny.

Take out portions of it to tint with food coloring. Keep the icing you are not working with covered with a damp cloth or paper towel so it doesn't dry out.

Colored Royal Icing In Pastry Bags

Royal icing will keep. Put leftover icing in a small Tupperware type container or plastic squeeze bottle and pop it into the refrigerator. It will darken slightly over time.

Thin royal icing with water until it is a good piping consistency. You want it not so stiff that you can't get it out of the bag, but stiff enough to hold it's shape.

Use Royal Icing for Cookies that you want to keep. It hardens nicely and it also freezes, so you can make and decorate cookies a week or two ahead of time.
Flickr Photos

For a listing of other great cookie design sites see links on Food Got to Love It

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turducken- A Successfull Dinner

This was a most successful Turducken. The family and friends loved it. It tasted scrumptuous according to my neice CheyChey.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Flickr Phtos- Turducken

Turducken - 15 Degrees To Go

Happy Thanksgiving all. It's down to the wire now. All my side dishes are complete and ready for warming up. My Turducken is in the oven. I woke up at 3:30am this morning to get it going. My oven was preset for 225 degrees. After getting it going, I graciously went back to bed. By the time I finally got out of bed and checked at 8:00am (4 1/2 hours into cooking), the temp was at 127 degrees. I started the basting with the pan juices. Looks quite moist even without the basting but just in case.

By 10:00am (6 1/2 hours into cooking) the temp was at 150 degrees and it looks and smells fantastic. The color is already a golden brown but not quite complete yet-15 degrees to go.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Turducken- Almost there

I left work early today so that I could start in on the makings of tomorrows Thanksgiving meal. The birds finished their brine and now all that's left is to build the Turducken.

Chicken post brine

Duck post brine

Turkey post brine

Now it was time to stuff. I placed a plastic cover on the table top. I removed the stuffing I prepared last night from the refrigerator. I pulled out the skewers, cooking twine and spiral poultry needle I just purchased from Surfas. Ready to build the holiday centerpiece.

The sewing up process was a bit harder than I anticipated. Skewers didn't work, so I just tried some old fashioned sewing with the twine. This side won't show during presentation.

The breast side presentation is a little off but that shouldn't impact the final product. My next decision is when do I start the cooking process. My family usually expects an early afternoon dinner. With an approximate 9 hour cook time at 225 degrees to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, that would require me to have the Turducken in the oven by 5:00am. My other choice is to place it in the oven around midnight allowing me to get some sleep plus allowing extra time just in case I don't get to 165 degrees in 9 hours. Such decisions.