Tag Archives: Chicken

Labor Day Recipes with a Bit o’ Sass

Each year, I wait for the first morning I have a sense that Fall is right around the corner, teasing me.  The humidity is gone, skies are clear and blue, and there’s a gentle breeze. One cruel morning this week hinted of just that, but it was gone before I knew it.  A long Labor Day weekend lies ahead, and hot sunny days perfect for a day at the beach or barbeque are what most long for.  But this last gasp of summer brings memories of school for me.  A rest from all the shopping for clothes and supplies, from setting up yet another classroom, attending meetings to prepare for the new year, and seemingly endless lesson plans that waited to be written.  I always looked forward to Labor Day weekend because I could leave all the business of the weeks preceding for a day or two to think about food, family, and relaxation.

Labor Day weekend also represents something else, though.  It often coincides with my birthday, and this year  the holiday falls on the same day of the week I was born — Monday.  Pretty appropriate, don’t you think?  I’m sure my mother did because I was her first born.  I’m thinking about making myself a cheesecake like my mother always did, but in the meantime, thinking about great food to share for the holiday weekend in general is more in order.  So I’ve decided to organize the recipes I’d love to sample here instead of tagging cookbooks and magazines, or making a list in my notebook like I normally do.  It’s a list of Labor Day Recipes with a Bit o’ Sass — because that’s what I’m usually in the mood for.

Enjoy and by all means, share what you think would be a great addition to this list by adding a link in the comments.  Party on!

Oh, and you might think the recipes I’ve included from my own archives in this list are a bit on the shi-shi side of things, but they really aren’t all that.

Okay, so I’m from California.

Does it count that I’m a transplanted “Zonie” and childhood Navy Brat?

Read on, dear friend.  Read on, because I’ve included other great recipes from foodies whom I greatly admire — and I do think they’re all that.

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Chicken Wrap with Spicy Greens

I’ve been working on our patio for a few months now trying to make it more functional and enjoyable.  It’s a narrow area that wraps along two sides of our house and much different than the half-acre of hillside we tended at our former house.  At first, the idea of having so much less to manage outside was attractive because we were busy with our jobs and moving closer to the ocean and a beautiful seaside community that would inspire us to get out more and enjoy weekends full of sun and fun.  But I’m a gardener — I always have been.  And as much as the weather is often quite gorgeous here, I’m content to spend time outside digging in the dirt.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been very easy for the past few years.

A former owner had planters installed on the patio and made less than smart choices about what was planted in them, so now, several are completely root bound.  Old flagstone capping has loosened from the planter walls, much of it cracked or broken completely.  The fence, although beloved by my cats for its great scratching post qualities, was more a termite high rise.  Tearing it down took little thought.

I’ve always kept pots of annuals and herbs, and for the first time two years ago, began growing tomatoes in pots.  About a year ago, I put together a small herb box as well.  This year, one of the tomato pots has become a salad greens pot.  It may not seem like much, but I can tell you the snails would be quite upset if I ever got rid of the little herb box.  And this year, they’ve truly enjoyed picking out all but one variety of salad green from the new pot.  Who knew snails had such discriminating palates — erm — radula?

Even though my patio is small by suburban yard standards here, I could squeeze the few things I enjoy harvesting in an even smaller space such as a balcony if I had to.  In other words, it doesn’t take much to grow a few of your own veggies and or herbs.  I’d enjoy planting even more among the roses and succulents I’m currently planting in the newly filled, capped, and painted planters, but until those plants are established, adding anything edible to them isn’t advisable and may never be.  Hence, the pots I have are a great idea because I can move them around according to the seasons and sunlight.

My tomato plants are sporting grape-sized fruit, but the idea frying tiny green tomatoes isn’t as appealing to me as plucking some of the salad greens, a few leaves of the perennial bloody sorrel that continues to thrive, some wild arugula, and purple basil.

Perfect for a wrap with a bit of left over chicken and, if the patio was finished, a nice lunch outside with a good book.  All in due time.

Are you a gardener?  Do you have an outside space to relax in when the weather is pleasant?

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Mama Mia! Greek Night In

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There’s a Greek bistro not too far from where I live called Apollonia.  It rates as one of the casual places I’ve enjoyed locally whose food has had me thinking about it long after I’ve eaten there.  Maybe it’s because I don’t eat Greek food very often, and so my weary taste buds long for something unique.  Or, it could be that the food is just plain delicious.

Valentine’s week (and I have to call it that since my husband treated me to days of lovely surprises) one of my gifts was dinner at Apollonia.  Ohhh, the hummos and the dolmathakia.  The spanakopita and tyropita.  The souvlaki.

Sheer heaven.

Clearly, there was a Greek dinner in the works for us at home after this, and I decided that since the Academy Awards was rapidly approaching, I’d spend the day in the kitchen cooking and watching what my husband calls my “pre-game show” of all things Oscars:  gowns and botox lips, padded rumps and tatooed eyeliner.  You’ve got to love Hollywood at least once a year.

No sooner had I begun the prepping than my oldest son called to ask what we were doing.
“Watching the Oscars and eating Greek food.  Why?”  I asked.
“Because I’m coming over,” he told me and with a quick “See Yah,” he hung up leaving me with my list of what to chop when and Mama Mia running through my mind.  Not the movie — the song.  Well, actually, both.

The connection?  My son is a huge ABBA fan and my husband and I are pretty sappy over the movie, too.  I know.  You can think what you will, but since I was actually around when ABBA’s songs routinely blasted from my car radio, I can be sappy about them if I want.  Besides, who can resist the amazing cerulean water in the film and seriously hunky Pierce Brosnan belting out, “So when you’re near me, darling can’t you hear me…SOS…The love you gave me nothing else can save me SOS!” to an I want to look like that when I’m 60 Meryl Streep.

Ahhhh….

I see a Greek island vacation in my future.

But in the meantime, I’ll settle for homemade hummus, Briami, and Chicken Souvlaki from Peter of Kalofagas.  With ABBA, of course, and this does involve a bit of dancing barefoot without warning.

I’ve been singing ABBA tunes all day every day for weeks.  In the car, at the grocery store…

Mama Mia.  Here we go again…

I just need a sailboat.

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Chicken Soup with Southern Dumplings

When we were in the thick of our remodel, I had my eye out for magazines that would help me narrow down the paint choices since we were having the whole interior repainted.  O At Home caught my eye while I was standing in line at the grocery store because The Color Issue was emblazoned across its cover and promises of 21 frsh, can't fail palettes lured me to throw it in my basket. 

Along with the good advice I came across that did inevitably help me choose my colors, tucked in the back was an article on One-Pot Meals with gorgeous photos of food I wanted to make right then and there.  Of the four recipes featured, I tried Alice Waters's Winter Minestrone first with average results.  I could take the blame for this because I used scarlet runner beans instead of cannellinis, and potatoes instead of turnips, but neither of those changes would have turned this soup into something less than good if it had been a decent tasting recipe to begin with.  I love minestrone, and this recipe just didn't cut the mustard.

The second recipe I tried was Art Smith's "Chicken and Dumplings."  It caught my eye because I grew up eating very different dumplings than the flat, egg noodles looking strips nestled in the clear broth and vegetables I was staring at.  I had to try it since my life long idea of a dumpling was a dollop of wet dough that was dropped onto the hot contents of a pot of chicken soup or stew and covered for a time to steam and puff up before being uncovered to finish off the cooking.

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Besides, it was going to be tough to ignore a piece of chewy dough.  Sad but true.  Unfortunately, again, something was amiss….

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Jambalaya with Andouille Shrimp and Chicken

I’d like to say I’ve been on vacation and that’s why I haven’t written lately, but honestly, the time away has been more about working on admin issues here.  Although I’ve learned quite a bit about websites and CSS and can fake code like the best of the posers since I’ve started blogging, suffice it to say that countless hours were spent last week reading through instructions to connect some dots that weren’t designed to go together.  Call me stupid tenacious.  Or stubborn.  Okay, how about a royal pain in the ass?

I was less than thrilled with this ultimate waste of time which nagged at me so much, the idea of doing anything but that at my Mac was impossible. The silver lining on that one is that I was able to focus!  Nice. So right now, I’m calling it a truce to cool down a bit before I decide to choose a different route.

Jambalaya with Andouille Shrimp and Chicken

What better way to do that than talk about food, right?  Exactly.  And what better food to discuss than Jambalaya?  No, I’m not from New Orleans, and to my knowledge, no one in my family is Cajun that I know of….but I love the flavors, the ease with which it comes together, and the sheer number of variations available.

Jambalaya is a One Pot Wonder that can be made with what you have on hand — almost.  And the pay off is big.  The resulting flavors remind me of a dish that has cooked for hours.  It’s easy on the budget, too.  It takes a bit more effort than fried rice, but nowhere near the energy that risotto or paella take, so even my son has manned the Wolf long enough to put a nice meal of Jambalaya together before with very little bossing from his mother.

Are you sold? No?

Okay, but maybe I’ve got you thinking…

But wait!  I also just found out (and I’m getting the impression I should have known quite some time ago…) that I’ve been nominated for Best Food Blog:  Humor by Haley of Appoggiatura.  Goodness!  This is so cool because I’m someone who never even won the “Who can spoon the most cotton balls blindfolded” game at baby showers.  Talk about a lifetime of feeling incompetent.

Which must explain my obsession with food, right?  I’m sure there’s a couch for me somewhere… If you have the time, check out all the great nominees in all the categories and vote, vote, vote.

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