Wednesday, February 27, 2013

No Soup For You!!!

Do you remember who said that infamous statement, "No soup for you?"  Well, it was on Seinfeld.  Hopefully that rings a bell.  There was plenty of soup at the Midtown Global Market's soup tasting in January.  But obviously if you are reading my blog you can only enjoy my soup virtually.  And it was so tasty.  I thought just for fun I would post all the soup samples, and then tell you who I voted for. And be sure to stay tuned until the end for a bonus recipe.

  The first soup was the Potato Cream Soup from Pham's Deli.  Tasty.

The Green Pozole Soup From El Burrito Mercado.  Very Good.

The Tomato Basil from Jakeeno's.  Super Yummy.

The Turkey, Potato and Kale from Fresco's.  Yum.  Plus I was starting to collect other food samples, cupcakes, cookies, and lots of tasty cheese.  Shoot.  I'm getting full already.

The Cahuamata Soup from Sonora Grill.  Ladies of the twin cities listen up.  This restaurant not only has the best tacos, but some super handsome chefs.  I'm just saying...

Baked Potato Soup from the Produce Exchange.  Creamy.

Saffron Chicken Soup from Safari Express.  Oh my.

Creamy Corn and Lime from Birdsong Soups.  I know, it looks so boring.  Yawn.

Chicken Tortilla from Andy's Garage.  Yum.  And a good place for a great burger.

Chicken Cilantro Soup from A La Salsa (my favorite Mexican restaurant)

Well, it was a close tie between the Tomato Basil from Jakeeno's.  (They were my favorite at the Chili cook off earlier this Winter)  and the Saffron Chicken Soup from Safari Express.  But I chose Safari because it was so unique.  A delicious soup over an unusual spongy bread.  It just melted in your mouth.  My husband picked the Green Posole Soup from El Burrito Mercado as his choice.  El Burrito has some of the best tasting and most tender Mexican flavored meats around.  Carnitas?  Check.  Soft and savory chicken?  Check. 

 In fact, we have been known to eat at the Midtown Global Market up to 6 or 7 times a week.  I might have to stop posting recipes because we will be eating all of our meals there.  Check.  And here is a bonus recipe for the Saffron Soup:

Saffron Chicken Soup
From Safari Express

½ minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp crushed chili peppers
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp saffron
2 cloves
3 oz of red peppers or ½ pepper
1 package of green peas
3 cups of chicken broth over water
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 oz coconut cream
Spinach (as needed)
Cilantro (as needed)

In large pot, brown onions and garlic until fragrant. Add crushed chili peppers, cumin, saffron, cloves and sautee for 30 seconds. Add red peppers and green peas. Then mix in chicken broth, chopped basil and coconut cream. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Garnish with spinach and cilantro.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Surviving driving in Managua, Nicaragua

Our jeep on the big island of Hawaii

When ever we travel we always rent a car.   And we have had some real adventures.  My husband has even gotten blisters on his poor hands from holding the steering wheel. We've been to Central America 6 times.  And survived them all.  Even the short cut to Montezuma through the mountains of Costa Rica.  We asked for directions to this "short cut" at a gas station.  The employee didn't speak English, but pointed us in the direction of a dirt road.  We took it. 

 And for miles we forged bridge-less mountain streams and rivers following little more than a cow path. We encountered no other cars. Only some locals on horse back.  And the worst part was we were never really sure if we were going the right way.  It still ranks as our biggest off road adventure to date. was the right way!  

The reason I'm posting this today is actually a hilarious quote from a travel book we just checked out from the library.  The Nicaragua Handbook written by Richard Arghiris.  Here's what he said about driving in the city of Managua.

In the Managua battle-zone the visiting gladiator must steer clear of axle-breaking holes and city buses- smoking beasts, filled to the ceiling with sweating commuters and professional thieves and manned by some of the most aggressive drivers on earth. 

 The crazed and ruthless driver mounts his challenge, horns wailing, sharpened metal spikes spinning from chromed wheels.  The bus driver will never slow down, yield or even acknowledge anyone, except a boarding passenger.  Taxi drivers too must be respected for what they are: rogue messengers from planet anarchy, routinely breaking every rule of legal driving in ways previously unimaginable.  Don't be surprised by the crash-the-red-light-by-driving-into-oncoming-traffic-to-overtake-waiting-cars-at-the-intersection manoeuvre or their maniacally obsessive horn usage.  

Rogue messengers from planet anarchy.  Ha!  Well, we still plan on driving when we go to Nicaragua.  But if you don't hear from me again after that trip you'll know what happened.

Our first big driving travel adventure started here.  On the lava fields of Hawaii.  I remember gripping what ever I could and thinking if we got a flat tire we would have to walk for miles over jagged hot lava.  Would our marriage have survived?  Who knows.  But we made it to this green sand beach.  Whew.

This green sand beach was a little easier to get to.  Just a bumpy dirt road.

But do you see that person on the rocks?  When we got there the real adventure began.  Climbing down to the beach.

But look at that green sand.  Beautiful.  I think green will be the color of our face if we ever drive in the city of Managua.  

To be continued someday...

P.S.  Be sure to stop back on Wednesday for an extra fun recipe post!

Friday, February 22, 2013


click to enlarge

Be very quiet.  Not even a whisper.

Do not on any terms awake the cicada.  They may be small.  But they are capable of crazy, insane and deafening sound.  When ever I think of being quiet these days I think of the books I am reading, Game of Thrones.  Arya, one of the young heroines learned from her dancing master (sword play) to be as still as blue water and as quiet as a cicada shell.  (after the cicada is dead)  I just made that part up.  But Arya practiced her stealth skills trying to pick up wild alley cats around the city. That would be tough. meeeeeeOOWWW!!!!...pssssttttt...aaaaaaahhhhhaaaa

That was supposed to sound like a cat screeching, hissing and then probably scratching Arya. 

click to enlarge

Well, unfortunately on this occasion the cicadas woke up and roared.  My illustrated monkey and toucan have heard enough.

These illustrations are part of my jungle journal stored at the Brooklyn Art Library/Art House Co-op.  If someone checks out a book in Brooklyn does it make a sound?  No.  I don't think so.    

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Comfort Food

I decided to post a couple comfort food recipes.  The rice dish I remember from my childhood.  My Mom would make it for company and family potlucks. It always got rave reviews.  Because it is rich, buttery and cheesy.  

And the meatloaf is a new recipe.  It is a little different. It has some veggies in it!  Healthy, but still tasty. 

Broccoli Rice Hot dish

1 stick melted butter
2 boxes frozen Green Giant cheesy broccoli
1 can fat free cream of mushroom soup (or full fat. I'm not your doctor)
1 cup raw white rice
 Sharp shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the rice according to the package instructions.  Then put in a large mixing bowl.  Add the melted butter, thawed broccoli and soup.  Bake for around 45 minutes.  Then remove from the oven and add some shredded sharp cheddar cheese (however much you like) and bake for 10-15 more minutes.  Easy!

*My mom always used a jar of velvetta and a bag of frozen broccoli instead of the boxes of cheesy broccoli.  You could also use fresh broccoli and any kind of processed cheese.

Turkey Meatloaf

1 slice whole wheat bread
1/3 cup low fat milk
1 small onion
1 rib celery
1 carrot
3 garlic cloves
2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large mixing bowl soak the bread and milk. 
Place all the veggies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the bread bowl.

Add the turkey, 1/4 cup of ketchup, egg, sauce, salt and pepper. Mix gently with your hands.  

In a shallow baking pan create a 10x5 inch oval loaf.  Spread with remaining ketchup.  Bake for 50 minutes

*I used ground chicken instead of turkey.  And next time I would go back to my normal carb element.  Oats instead of bread. I also used less salt.  It was good.  But the next day I grilled a piece in olive oil and made a sandwich with a grilled potato roll.  Even better.

Monday, February 18, 2013

News of the Weird

Oh my God. Boy, was I spammed.

 It was my educational Have you ever seen the reverse side of a Blue Morpho? post. A pictorial of the life span of a butterfly from an egg droplet to a beautiful blue wisp on the wind. The spam hit the fan. 

The first day I had 32 comments. And 1/2 of them were spam. I deleted them and went back to business. The 2nd day I had 54 comments on my poor butterfly post. What is going on? I marked them as spam and changed my settings to eliminate anonymous comments. Unfortunately my husband won't be able to comment anymore. Sorry honey! The spam comments are a blight to behold. Ha! They were so weird and poorly written I posted some of them below. Minus any scary links. If you read nothing else, please at least scroll to the bottom of each comment to see who left the wise words. Do they really think I am going to click on a link that says rectal prolapse!

P.S. Don't miss the irony of the last comment. Read that one for sure.
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Friday, February 15, 2013

SWEATER material

No, I'm not trying to pull the wool over your eyes.  You've seen my goofy Alpaca for before.  I'm recycling an old sweater theme.  I'm such an eco artist.  

I'm surprised that wool isn't at the same price point as gold.  It is a precious commodity here in Minnesota.  It gets me through the Winter. If it wasn't for the fact that I want to move some place where I can wear flip flops all year, I'd start an Alpaca farm.  They are just so darn goofy looking! 

Socks.  A practical gift from my husband.

Did I call it or what?  Goofy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sweetie Pies

The crust:

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp room temperature shortening
1 large egg, plus 1 beaten egg white
5 tbsp ice water

In a large bowl toss the flour, baking powder and salt.  Using a pastry cutter, mix in the shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl mix the beaten egg and the ice water.  Stir into the flour mixture until the dough comes together.  Divide into 6 even balls. 

On a lightly floured surface roll each ball into a 6 inch disk.  Brush the egg white around each rim.  Now you can place around 1/3 cup of your favorite chilled pudding or fruit filling. Fold the dough over the filling and seal and crimp edges with a fork. Refrigerate each pie until ready to fry!

In a deep skillet heat around 3 cups of peanut oil to 375.  Use a deep fry thermometer.  Carefully add 2 pies at a time.  Turning 2-3 times and around 3 minutes until brown.  Carefully remove pies from the oil and place on paper towels.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  

Now share one with your sweetie.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

An Unusual Storm

My first thought when I discovered the theme Storm is that I would finally come up empty handed.  Every Friday I play a fun little game of hide and seek trying to dig up a matching piece of art.  Storm?  Then I remembered this little umbrella piece.  Actually, I think I sold the original for $1.00 at a thrift sale.  But after a little searching I found a digital scan in an old file folder.  I scanned it right through the glass of the frame it was in. 

Well, with all that searching, umbrellas and storm talk I couldn't resist pairing today's art post with our visit to the ruins of Lubaantun in the Toledo district of Southern Belize. We weren't sure if we would even be able to see the ruins.  The first day we sat in our car while the rain poured down, only to give up and drive away.  But we were only in Punta Gorda for a few days.  And we had to see the place where the controversial Crystal Skull was discovered.  Have you seen the last Indiana Jones movie?  You can visit here for the scoop.  The infamous skull is believed to have originated here and is said to possess paranormal powers.  Cool. 

Lubaantun is an unusual ruins.  The name means, "place of the falling stones." And it dates back to AD 730.

The umbrella only dates back a few years. Luckily we only discovered a drizzle on this day.

The ruins are set in an exotic and beautiful jungle setting.  

It is always interesting to see a site that is not fully excavated and reconstructed. 

I'm so glad the rain didn't stop us from visiting this unusual site. It is considered unusual because of the way the Maya laid the stone together without mortar.  Plus there's the whole human sized Crystal Skull thing. 

P.S.  If you are interested in ruins be sure to click on my Belize labels for the other sites we've visited.  And there will be more to come.   

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Greek Chicken and Hummus Pizza

My love story with pizza continues.  I created another winner, winner chicken dinner.  This time I used hummus with garlic as my sauce.

Then added a bunch of Greek inspired ingredients.  Black olives, rotisserie chicken, onions, sweet yellow and red peppers and pickled Greek peperoncini peppers.  There's a little mozzarella cheese underneath.

After it was baked I added cracked black pepper, oregano and feta cheese.

Oh my God.  Another winner.  It has been a long time since I posted the crust recipe.  I usually just refer my blog followers back to my original, "Meal On Death Row" post.  That still makes me laugh!  But today I've added the crust recipe below.  Try it!

I'll even start this post in the prehistoric dough stage.  You'll need:

2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
4 cups flour  (I use 3 1/2 cups white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil

In a large measuring cup mix the lukewarm water and the yeast.  Let stand in a warm place for 5 minutes.  Now mix all of the dry ingredients and the oil in a large mixing bowl.  Push the flour mixture to the side and pour in the yeast/water mixture.  Now be ready to knead.  I knead with my right hand and keep my left hand clean in case I (knead) to add more flour. (If it is too sticky) 

 It will be a big wet mess at first.  But soon it will come together.  To knead you just fold the dough over and on itself over and over.  Of course you won't be able to really knead until the dough comes together.   

It should look like this after a few minutes. When you are done kneading and it feels like a springy dough ball, cover the dough with a damp towel.  I always prepare the damp towel in advance because your hands will be a mess.  Now let the dough rest in a warm place for at least 20 minutes.  It should double in size.  When that happens you'll need to punch it down to release some of that air.  Now pull the dough from the sides of the bowl and kind of loosely form it into a ball again.  Pour a little olive oil over the dough and cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until dinner.  

O.K.  so now it is hours later right? The dough will have risen and should be enough for 3 pizzas.  I take the dough out of the bowl and cut it into 3rds.  I take 1 3rd and roll it out as shown. I freeze the other balls for later.  And boy, is it nice to have those in the freezer! I like a thin crisp crust so I roll it thin.  I transfer it to my large oiled pizza pan.  And this is an important part.  Take a fork and poke it all over your crust.  Then bake it at 450 for 5-10 minutes. (My metal pan has holes in it) This  pre-baking will give you a crisper crust.  You don't need any pizza stone or special pizza oven.  Trust me. 

Now add your favorite ingredients.  Bake for another 10 minutes and share this post with a friend! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Corny Trail Cam Commentary

"I'm all that and a bag of acorns."

The trail cam spent another sleepless Summer in the big woods.  This new reel did reveal a bear butt.  (Butt) other than that it was just deer, deer and more deer.  We were hoping for a wolf or cougar.  Big foot would have been the money shot.  No luck.  So here are a few small foots.  And some corny commentary...

"UFO straight ahead!" 

"I'm ready for my close-up."

"Still ready...."

"I'm pretending I'm taxidermy."

"Santa, there's a new deer in town.  I've got Rudolph beat by more than a nose.  Let's see if that has been can make his whole body glow.  Urrrummmppphh."

"Now it's"

"I'm beautiful and I know it."