Wednesday, September 30, 2009


low fat

low cal


AND tasty!

well, it does have the fats from the walnuts, but we all know those are the good omegas, so not to worry.

if you glanced at a bit of my blog lately, you might be stumped as to why i all the sudden am throwing you a curve-ball with the healthy bread. believe it or not, i am actually a health conscious person.
AND, i believe in the Yin and Yang theory...sweet and savory, crunchy and smooth...a little bit good with a little bit o' bad...most of all...a little angel with a kiss of the devil..

should i admit now that i have a chocolate dipped, peanut rolled, carmel coated, piece of bacon in the morning? with this in mind i thought i'd bake up something healthy to add to the jump start of my day.


2 c. canned pumpkin
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 c. applesauce
2/3 c. water
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. soda
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
i added 1 c. chopped walnuts and 1 c. dried cranberries

i put the oven at 330 convection and baked 'till tookpick came out clean...time varies due to size AND COLOR of loaf pans.
i also used 2 med. 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf AND 1 small 5 3/4 x 3" loaf pan

In a large bowl, blend pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, water, eggs and egg whites. Add flours, soda, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. Blend at low speed until moistened, then beat 1 minute at medium speed.
Pour batter into 2 non-stick sprayed and floured (bottom only) loaf pans (9x5 inch). Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

the bread comes out very moist, not cakey like a sweet full-fat type loaf bread/cake. you just have to feel a bit righteous while eating it because it oozes health BUT it still tastes GOOD. not like some health breads. i think the walnuts and craisins are a must...might add some calories, but really adds to the flavors and texure. it might be kind of "one-note", if you will, unless you add some extra goodies. so feel free to add your own combo of extras. i think you'll be pleased with the base recipe. one nice slice along with your regular breakfast, be it normal or a bit decadent, will keep your head on straight at least 'till lunch time.

Monday, September 28, 2009


these are dreamy little nuggets of gold.

if you thought you couldn't make candy or just didn't want to attempt it due to the potential sticky mess that could occur ( and will at some point), don't be afraid...jump in...i did.
now i find myself a little addicted to the challenge.

wake up that candy lovin' kid in you and start out with some caramels. i started out with a recipe i found here that i think i first saw on

my first attempt with this exact recipe was a success. they came out tasting unreal and everybody was amazed. i must say, being my first attempt, i liked them, but i would have liked the caramel just a smidge harder. as i explain in the bacon, black salt carmel post, i was so excited to make these that i went down to the nearest super market and bought a cheap thermometer that subsequently melted during the crucial stage of soft ball, hard ball and firm ball. needless to say...get yourself a proper thermometer.
i found that caramel, unlike brittles or chocolates, can be much more forgiving and you have just a bit more time to play with it. as a matter of fact, i just now finished making bacon strips dipped in caramel...then crushed salted peanuts...then dipped in chocolate (the caramel stage was sprinkled with some cayenne). we'll see if i can get a shot of those before they disappear, huh?!
so, just start out as i did with the recipe from leave out the bacon, if that scares you...and you'll find this base caramel recipe an easy and tasty one.
i almost forgot...for this recipe i started off with the base carmel recipe...poured it into a buttered 2 qt. pyrex. then immediatly started putting huge Virginia salted roasted peanuts on top. i pushed a few of them down with a tooth pick (and my finger-being careful, it's hot). i opted not to put the peanuts in before pouring because i wanted control of peanut spacing...i guess it's a control issue? then lightly sprinkled with the black salt...careful, because black salt seemes to be a bit powerful and the peanuts are salted. for another batch i made last week, i sprinkled chopped arbol chilis for a yummy spicy kick. so try anything you want, as i said caramel is forgiving AND a great blank canvass for all sorts of flavors.

Friday, September 25, 2009

BBQ PIG TAILS...really ugly, but really tastey

quite possibly the ugliest thing i have tried to date.
BUT i must tell you, a little funny to admit... i've actually cooked these twice now..i think i secretly like them. they're kinda sinfully delicious...

once again, i was perusing the meat section of my favorite Mexican market and i came across these babies all nice and freshly packaged...couldn't pass them up. i had seen a post a while back, i wish i could remember whose, about pig's tails and i was flabbergasted..i mean really amazed, that someone could take such an ugly pig-part, cook it and then eat without laughing so hard that you could even swallow...

i'm not quite sure why the tails are butchered this way, sliced through all the way 'till the tip, because it makes them a bit difficult to eat (AND painfully phallic!). maybe i just don't have the correct pig tail know-how, but as you can see from my past experience with oxtails here and turkey tails here, i'm not the new kid on the block when it comes to tails. i suppose it's a way to get the BBQ heat to the meat AND the fatty outer layer crispy at the same time. hmmm...

tell me these babies are not s shocker to look at...

i wasn't sure i could even go through with the purchase.

look at THEM!!!
what do YOU think they resemble?

here is the recipe i used as a guidline
8 pig tails, rinsed
6 cloves garlic, halved
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt

i also added 1 quartered onion, 2 cut carrots, 2 stalks cut celery
cumin, chili powder, oregano...really anything you think would be flavorful.

DIRECTIONSPlace the pig tails in a large stock pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, and clean the pot of any debris, then return the tails to the pot and cover with cold water. (this step i find important. i have started to do this with other odd animal parts i'm not fami;iar with or that have alot of bone such as large beef ribs) Bring to a boil again, and season with onion, red pepper flakes and salt. Boil for about 2 hours, or until the tails are almost falling apart.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.
Drain the pig tails, and place them on the roasting pan. The stock from the tails may be used to cook turnip greens, cabbage or black-eye peas.
Roast the tails for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tails pop and sizzle and the skin browns. Take care when opening the oven door. Allow the tails to cool, and serve with your favorite side dishes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009



did anyone out there have TACO TUESDAY at their elementary school?...or did everybody...and we had Fishstick Friday, but today we're talkin TACOS.

AND, these are easy peezy to pull together. that is...if you have a fabulous Mexican market nearby or you're feelin' lucky with your deep frying BUT, "diy" not recommended!. ..atleast not in this house.

we've all heard of chicharron...right? fried pork skin...that little clear bag at all the truck stops and mini markets you just can't pass up on those "eat anything you wouldn't normally eat" type of road trips. well, imagine, if possible, a gourmet version of that. chicharron carne is the same fried pork skin, but with some meat still attatched. when it's fresh, it unbelievably sinful. i know the thought of biting into a chunk of fried fatty meat doesn't sound appealing to most, but trust me, you won't stop at one...even the faint of heart.

the tacos themselves are pretty elementary. i prefer a nice small fresh white corn tortilla with clean ingredients such as cilantro, diced onion, and fresh spicy hot salsa...just a few extras in order for the main component to shine, in this case the chicharron carne. with this taco maybe some simple fresh guacamole would be great and might help keep the meat in place due to the fact that they are little fried crispy chewy golden chunks that tend to fall out easily. but...sometimes tacos are best when they're falling all over the place...kinda like a sloppy JOSE'...?

so, next time you're hankerin' for a fresh taco instead of some restaurant tex-mex wanna be taco...go find a great Mexican market and pick up all the yummy fresh goods....throw them together yourself. you could put together a great Taco Tuesday for just a few bucks$. get creative with your salsas and don't be afraid to try some of the marinated meats and chicken they have. a good Mexican market will always have exceptional meats and produce.

always taste test your goodies. i stress fresh, fresh, fresh fried chicharron. you want them crispy, chewy, chunky and hot (people waiting in line to get at them is always a good sign).

always're only as good as your this case...ingredients

it's the quality of the ingredients...PERIOD.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


back to basics...back to BAKING!...

1st a big HUGE thank you to ANNIE's EATS found here. i happen to love anything pumpkin and everyone i know loves blondies, so i knew i had to make these.

i've already made this recipe twice. i made them as is with my only add being almost 1 whole cup of roughly chopped toasted pecans (instead of 1/2 c.) and i stress that the ones going in the dogh should be toasted....then i sprinkled raw chopped pecans on top. i used toasted on top for the 1st batch and they, of coarse, got too use raw for the top.

ps....make sure they are done in the middle...use toothpick method...they are meant to be chewy, BUT not too gooey...

also...if you want them to cut with a straight edge, easy for packing...stick them in the fridge for a bit, then cut.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBQ TURKEY TAILS...i'm not kidding

this is just one of those things i absolutely could not pass up...and kinda glad i didn't.


i mean, have you ever?!
would you ever?
could you ever?

I DID ! and i'd do it again. problem is, i have never, and might not ever, see these for sale again. i just couldn't pass them up. something so odd and so ugly will always catch my attention. lately i've been scaring myself (and others) with my quest for the odd, the ugly, the out of the ordinary...the..."are you REALLY gonna eat that?" type of foods.

let's just talk about these two nuggets of pure turkey goodness...

these two bites could possibly be the best bites of the whole turkey, could be because they are such a rare find and hard to obtain, but what ever, i found them delicious.

also, check out this funny little skeleton of the tail.

i find it so strange to think that ol' Tom's big huge turkey pride plume comes from this little fat nub. well, actually i have never thought about it at all.

just to clarify...i didn't set out to BBQ turkey tails. i was fixin' to grill up some legs and wings when i came across the tails. here's a great way to BBQ some turkey and keep it really moist, cooked all the way through, without charing the outside.

MOIST BBQ TURKEY(works really well w/BEEF RIBS too)
nothin' fancy, nothin' to it
you'll need a pretty big pot
i usually throw in 1 large onion
4 smashed cloves garlic
2 cut stalks celery
2 carrots cut
(the following is approx., i never measure)
1 T. tarragon
1 T. oregano
1 T. thyme
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
some cayenne
garlic salt
kosher salt

bring everything (meat included) to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
turkey is about 1 - 1 1/2 hrs
beef ribs about 2 hrs.

basically season as you would some yummy broth, because after i remove the meat i like to reduce the liquid and use as a base to many other things. this last batch i had some beef ribs in as well and the broth reduced down to LIQUID GOLD.

when the meat is done (fork tender-not falling off the bone) remove from broth

i like to let it cool just a bit, then apply your favorite BBQ sauce (while warm) and let rest for a bit...i'm usually lighting the grill and preparing sides...
when the grill is very hot put meat on, close lid to infuse smokey-ness..continue to grill all sides of meat with good grill marks while closing lid between turns...might sound like intro to grilling 101, but that's how my grilling goes. you're not actually cooking the meat any more, you're just getting that grill flavor going. (hopefully your grill is well seasoned)

it ends up tasting like you grilled the meat through the whole cooking process, but it turns out really moist and you're insured it is cooked all the way through.
i know it's not rocket science, but the meat turns out perfect every time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


actually, zucchini, pineapple, walnut, sultana bread.
grandma Nonnie is not my grandma, but i know she was a lovely sweet lady and made some exceptional breads(her banana nut and apple spice cocoa bread coming soon). she was my highschool boyfriends' grandmother, we won't say HOW LONG AGO that was, but let's just say i've kept these handwritten 3x5 cards safe for, oooh...a few decades.

this recipe comes out perfect everytime and it's always a huge winner, even to those that want to squish up their nose hearing the star of the show is a vegatable named zucchini. it's always moist, but still flakey like a cake. i think it would really lend itself to a 2" cake pan or a bundt with some yummy cream cheese frosting. that would definitely take it from breakfast to a main dessert.

what realy makes this bread/cake is the combo of ingredients. ie. the zucchini, pineapple, the finely chopped walnuts and the sultanas, nonnie recommends currents, but i didn't have any so i opted for sultanas rather than plain ol' raisins. (i think diced apricots would be great too).

nonnie calls for 2 reg. loaf pans. in the past i used 3 med throw-away tin pans, but this time i used 2 throw-aways and 1 mini and i think they came out perfect. i like a bread/cake to be tall and raise a bit above the edge. plump, you might say.

as written by Grandma Nonnie
notes: before you begin-flour loaf pans
mix flour , spices, salt, bk. powder, soda
drain pineapple
shred zucchini
chop nuts-
have everthing ready to just add & you can mix it in 5 or 10 minutes
(this is Greg's very favorite bread-the banana is good-the apple sauce is good, the carrot is good-BUT this zucchini is best- (she's not kidding)
3 eggs
1 c. oil (wesson)
2 c. sugar
2 c. raw grated(coarse) zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple (well drained)
with rotary mixer beat 3 eggs to blend-
add 1 c. salad oil, 2 c. sugar & vanilla...beat utill thick and foamy
add zucchini and pineapple
combine 3 c. all purpose flour (unsifted)
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
mix together
add mixture on front of card (above wet) a little at a time
add 1 c. finely chopped walnuts & 1 c. currents (we can use raisins, but like currents better)
stir gently into zucchini mixture untill well blended
bake in 2 loaf pans @ 325 degrees for 1 hour
(insert toothpick-if it comes out clean-is done
you really should try this bread. i have not found one better. and, as i said, it comes out perfect everytime. her banana bread is fab too so i'll be making that soon. the problem with that is it doesn't excite me too much to bake because i hate bananas. BUT, her banana bread is soooo good even I can eat a slice or two...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

JIGGLERS...still-art...still fun

one must not forget about jigglers. jigglers are a beautiful thing. jigglers are warriors in the challenge of the ever evolving culinary world. jigglers must not be forgotten...

its your call...color, flavor and texture. your canvass in blank and the possibilities are endless.
come to think of it, i have yet to make a spicy jiggler
a lavender infused jiggler
i have not tried to apply the "bacon makes everything better" theory...

of course you can get as creative as you want but, for instance,
even plain ol' lemon is surprisingly good. i think you could even stun your dinner guests with a fabulous retro throwback and serve them a little jiggler for a between course palette cleanser.
or how about an amuse bouche?

i know it's sounds like i've lost my mind, and your thinking " big deal, can't ya come up with something original?...
well, i'm not here to write about some wacky new way to cook jello. (hey, i wonder if any of those culinary artiste's at the fair have tried deep frying jello?)...i'm just simply out here doin' my part to bring back to you the wonderful world of JELLO, one jiggler at a time.

jiggler's are now a required staple in my house. i've seen many desserts come and go through that kitchen, but when it comes to jigglers there had better be a fresh batch, and it better not be the same flavor twice in a row...heads WILL roll. i've even witnessed a near throwdown over the last square.
well... that might be stretching the truth a bit, but i'll bet it could happen..

so, i implore you...any and ALL of you..from novice home cook to executive chef open a few boxes of your favorite flavor
add a little boiling water
add a little cold water...
sit back and wait...
part of the beauty of the jiggler is the forthought and anticipation, but don't get too anxious...a good jiggler is not real jiggler before it's set.
for the jiggler beginner...
when making your first batch, just use 1/2 the water the box calls for and prepare as instructed. from there go wild...mix and match, add flavors, layer them, use your old cookie cutters, add fresh fruit... oh ...
did i forget to mention that jigglers are age indifferent?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

JUST FRUIT...simple and perfect.

this summer has been so full of beautiful fruit. what is one to do when it all comes to an end?
who am i kidding..i live in so. California where you can get anything anytime...
if you're willing to pay the price. sometimes the price can be a bit steep. blueberries for $5.99 for the tiny little box?..can't do it. i know, i could use frozen, but i can't do it. i need to feel and hear that slight crunch and pop of the fresh blueberry skin busting open in my mouth. and all the stone fruits?...they will soon be gone. melons, oh i'm sure you could find a cantalope grown from somewhere and it would do. let's see...pears?...they'll be good for a while, but get one or two bad ones and they'll turn you off from buying any for a while. you know...the pithy kind.
PAPAYA...oooh the papayas. they can have their own paragraph. actually papayas and MANGOS. i think my obsession with these two started on my trip to Mexico at the beginning of summer. when i got back they were just coming in. huge mangos for .79-.99 cents each and those enormous 3-4 lb.'r papayas from Mexico, i was lucky to find at my favorite Mexican market for .79 cents a pound. i bought one the size of my head and the bill was 1.79 (note to self...i have to go get another tomorrow).
i've used this summer's fruit many times in recipes throughout the season, you can check out a few in my i wish i would have done more.
BUT, one of my new favorite ways to enjoy my morning fruit bowl is with a sprinkle of chili de arborl and a drizzle of maple syrup. it's especially good on the mago, papaya, melon bowl. i crave the sweet spicy combo on just about anything, but this is my favorite way to start the day.
so what will you do when all this good, beautiful bounty comes to an end?...any ideas?...or is it gonna be all apples and oranges from here on out?!..

Saturday, September 5, 2009

CHICHARRON LONJA-Deep Fried Pork Belly

YES!...this is like a whole triple wide thick slab of bacon, deep fried in...what i would venture to say...IT'S OWN FAT!...lard, pig fat, BACON FAT!...
i'm starting to wonder if i'l soon find myself out in the backyard rooting for truffles...hmmmm
maybe i should get my cholesterol checked soon.
so the story on this brick of bacon gold is...
i went out to my new favorite market to check out what kind of trouble i could get myself into. it's a killer Mexican style market, Northgat #9, out in Santa Ana, CA. it's really nice. the produce will out-shine any, and the meat dept. is unbelievable. i have yet to try their carne asada or the chicken marinating in all its glory. they also sell ALL parts of the animal...that's where i get myself into trouble. lately i've been going a bit extreem. i'll be posting about that soon. this particular visit i went to get somemore pig tails (posting soon) that i have found to be quite tasty, but that's another story. as i was making my way through the produce, i saw a bunch of people waiting in a deli-like section....ooooh boy!...all these ready made goods. salsas..sooo many salsas, fresh guacamole, civiches etc...then in the hot area i saw HUGE fresh made chicharrons, some as big as 2 ft. x 1 ft. i was just going to be happy with that, but then i saw a bunch of people with #'s waiting infront of this one area, so i nosed my way up and spied the chicharron carne and this big chicharron lonja. chicharron carne is the pork belly with a little meat attached, cut fairly small and fried crispy like the pork skins you get in a bag, but oooh soo much better. the lonja, is the big piece like the one i bought. well, nedless to say, I WAS IN PIG HEAVEN!...they also had trotters ( i attempted this at home if ya care to read about it here), spareribs and some other unrecognizable stuff, cooked or deep fried probably...i don't speak Spanish so i'll have to investigate more next time...knowing when it was my turn was challenge enough 'cuz, of course they called it out in Spanish...well, even I can count to ten in Spanish, so there i was #67, a foot taller than the other women and spikey blond hair...i kinda stuck out like a sore thumb, but still i waited, all smiles... my heart jumped as i heard sesenta y siete. i pointed and nodded and gracias'd my way through the language barrier and walked away with what i knew was pork fat gold.
the chicharron carne were so good and sinful they didn't make it into a photo. i can't stop thinking about them and will probably find myself back there just to get some. i have to admit, i got a little pork fatted-out, so i didn't dive into the lonja right away. as a matter of fact i put it in the fridge for later, kinda wondering how i was going to eat it. well, this morning for breakfast i cut off a hunk of it and put it in the toaster oven. DEEE-LISH!...with scrambled eggs, jalepenos, and a drizzle of maple syrup...sweet savory spicy...what more do i need to get my day rollin'?
so the point of this post is that i emplore any and all of you to find a great (reputable) Mexican market somewhere near you. i happen to luck out with this one, but will probably venture out to find more. it's like a treasure hunt. what treasure will i find next?
by the way...the chicharrons are fabulous with lime and fresh salsa. that is, if they make it home.

Thursday, September 3, 2009



this was so fun to make because it was a recipe written in my grandma Leda's handwriting. she passed away a few years ago at almost 108, but i swear she's still with me all the time. i even felt like calling her as i was making this. she was THE grandma of all grandmas. i hope you all had one as special as her.

she actually wrote the recipe using plums, specifically canned purple plums, but i chose to make it with canned pears. canned plums aren't in every store and i've never tried them so i went the safe route...pears. AND i think the size and color lent itself to the texture and visual of the kuchen.
the crust is really the star of the show. it's almost cookie-like. thick and crunchy but soft where needed. i mean it's just pure dense YUM!. so on with the recipe...
copied as written by Grandma Leda
cream 1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
add- 1 1/4 c. sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
blend and leave out 1/3 c.
press evenly into 8x8x2 pan (i used a 9 in. springform)
place 1 can purple plums-cut in half on crust ( i used pear halves)
sprinkle with 1/3 cup dough mix
bake at 375 for 15 min.
beat 1 egg slightly
stir in 1.c whipping cream to make custard
pour over plums and continue to bake untill top is golden and set... 25-30 min.
i hope this recipe makes sense. i kind of had to decypher it myself, but i gotta tell ya....this kuchen is soooo worth it...and pretty easy. so to all those grandmas out there everywhere, thank you for all your handed down recipes...i can't wait to dig into another one of her treats.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


i was going to start by saying i'm getting a head start on the pumpkin season, but that would be a BIG lie. i eat pumpkin pie just about every morning...1st thing. well, it IS "protein pumpkin pie".
i'll say it anyway..."get a head statr on your pumpkin ideas!"...this easy pound cake will ease you into the holidays...geezzz...holidays already!

this cake is more like a breakfast bread than a pound cake. it's moist but not thick, not too sweet and full of nuts. i was going to make a yummy cream cheese frosting that i think would be great, but i went for a lite drizzle of white glaze instead. this is the kind of cake you can dress up for an after dinner dessert or play it down for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
it called for a tube pan and all i had was this little 5 1/2 c. tuber, so i also got a medium loaf pan and a mini loaf pan of cake out of the deal.

i must admit, i'm kind of sucker for anything that has dripping glaze of any sort. it just always looks so ready to cut into.

you know?... i was just going to write the whole recipe out, but then i thought...i didn't change anything and i went exactly to the recipe..except for the size why copy it out when i can just link you to it...AND has printer friendly versions, which i love. does anybody else mind being linked to another page?...sometimes i prefer it so that it gives the other site props for the recipe and it's nice to see the recipe and the new interpretation from the blogger...i'd love to hear anyone's comments...
so go out and git yerself some punkin...i love that it's always available..year 'round.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...