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Friday
Dec032010

Zingy toasted pecans

I have never enjoyed the types of nuts that are so hard they hurt my teeth when I bite into them. Almonds? I love their flavor, but ouch! Peanuts, cashews and pecans? Mmmmm, so very tasty and no gnashing of teeth involved. I would say pecans are probably my favorite nut of all. I have a very difficult time stopping once I have started.

This pecan recipe is super tasty. It allows for a tiny bit of zing and it makes people Mmmmmm and Ohhhhhh. It is a great snack to serve at (or bring to) parties. And I learned that if you set them in the kitchen at your place of employment, within 30 minutes, all that is left are a few crumbs and an empty bowl.

Combine in a medium bowl:

1/4 cup melted butter

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional, but I love the tiny bit of zing this puts in my mouth)

2 cups pecan halves

Stir all ingredients together.

Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes or until toasted, stirring 3 times.

Yum!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Friday
Dec032010

Kona grill

Kona Grill opened in the city where I work a couple years ago. Maybe less. Judging from the outside of the building, I always thought it would be out of my price range and a bit too fancy for my liking. Then some coworkers suggested heading there for lunch to eat sushi. I do not pass up sushi, so to Kona Grill we went!

The inside has very swanky decor. Colorful blown glass that takes me back to Bellagio in Vegas adorns the celing near the sushi bar, and fun lighting can be found throughout the dining area. Upon being seated, I still believed the prices would be out of my comfort zone. We ordered sashimi and a few rolls and everything was delicious! The check came and I could not believe it! The total was almost half what we pay for the same amount of food at the sushi joint down the street. At that moment, I fell in love with Kona Grill.

I have been back a handful of times with my coworkers, with other friends and with my husband. I have tried lunch, happy hour and dinner and they are all excellent. The happy hour deals are incredible. You can choose from a list of about eight sushi rolls, a handful of other appetizers and a select number of drinks and pay half the original price!

My husband and I ordered the chicken and shrimp romaine wraps on a recent outing. They were delicious! The only complaint we had was that although the pieces of romaine look pretty, they don't serve the purpose of lettuce wraps very well. Give me a big piece of lettuce that I can fill up, please!

You can't really go wrong with edamame. Yum.

During a lunch date with a friend, we ordered this special called the Lobster Asparagus Roll. Heaven on a sushi plate! I have ordered this one time since because I am afraid it is going to be yanked from the menu.

The Rainbow Roll is one of my all-time favorites. It is basically a California roll topped with tuna, salmon, shrimp and yellowtail. DELISH!

And guess what? Kona Grills litter the country! Go check one out!

Thursday
Dec022010

Three-tier brownies

There are certain foods I will only make on Sunday afternoons. Why Sunday afternoons?

1. My boys are usually napping, which gives me at least an hour to do my thing.

2. There is still daylight for taking quality photos of food.

3. There are only a handful of waking hours remaining for me to stuff whatever I make into my mouth.

4. I work the following day, so I can bring what is left over to the office.

This is one of my Sunday foods. I waited until the last possible second to start making these (and oops, ended up running out of daylight) because I knew they would be dangerous to have around for too long. I was right. They were very very dangerous. Somehow, perhaps due to childcare distractions, I was able to stay mostly away and only eat one single brownie. Elijah and Dan shared another and I brought the rest to work the next morning so they could be devoured by coworkers.

I like having a plan in place! Setting myself up for the least amount of temptation is good because otherwise I would start slowly expanding like Violet did inside Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

First of all, have a plan. Or not. Go crazy, if you'd like. Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. There are three main layers to these brownies. For the bottom layer, stir together in a small bowl:

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Stir in 1/2 cup melted butter.

Press evenly into bottom of an ungreased 11x7x1.5-inch baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

While the bottom layer is baking, you can start preparing the middle layer.

In a medium bowl, stir together until smooth:

1 egg

3/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup flour

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Fold in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

Spread evenly over the bottom layer. Bake for about 25 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the top layer, in a medium saucepan, combine:

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 Tablespoons butter

Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Remove from heat and stir in:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

This is what mine looked liked after stirring. Still very dry.

Stir in between 1 and 4 tablespoons of hot water (1 tablespoon at a time) to make a mixture of spreading consistency. It took me 4 tablespoons to get a mixture that looked spreadable.

Spread chocolate mixture over middle layer.

Chop 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate.

Sprinkle chopped chocolate over top of the brownies and allow to cool completely. I didn't follow the cooling rules, but from what I heard the next day at work, they are delicious both warm and cool. Enjoy!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Thursday
Dec022010

2 of my 3

Wednesday
Dec012010

Chicken rice avocado soup

There are a handful of things about this time of year that I do not enjoy. The long, snowy commutes to and from work. The way the insides of my nostrils freeze together on really cold days. The fact that I rarely see daylight. Slipping on ice. On most days, I classify these as slight annoyances, thanks to the many wonderful things this time of year brings. Christmas cookies. Cuddling in bed with snuggly warm babies. Playing in the snow. Skiing. Christmas decorations. Christmas movies. Christmas music. The joy of gift-giving. Time with family. And SOUP! Comforting, warm, delicious soup!

I love those winter evenings where my boys and I are all at home, snuggled inside our warm, cozy, Christmas-lit house. Maybe we have music playing or perhaps a Christmas-themed show is on tv. The smell of a simmering soup surrounds us and makes the house even cozier.

Uhh, and then a tantrum occurs and baby screams drown out the lovely Christmas music and I say, "Is that SOUP DONE YET?" Because eating a bowl of warm soup is so very comforting.

This soup especially. It is one of the most delicious, comforting, satisfying soups I have made in a while.

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Season 4 boneless chicken breast halves with salt and pepper and add to the skillet.

Cook 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown, on each side.

Transfer chicken to a work surface and cut into bite-size pieces.

Add 3/4 of a small, chopped ren onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes (save the other 1/4 of the onion for later).

Add 1 pound of cubed red potatoes and cook for 1 more minute.

Return cubed chicken to the skillet.

Add:

1/2 cup uncooked white rice

32 oz. chicken broth (4 cups)

3 cups water

Bring to a boil.

Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in:

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 peeled, cubed avocado

Scoop into bowls and top each with:

A pinch of chopped fresh parsley

Chopped red onion

A dollup of sour cream

Prepare to be comforted and all-around pleased.

Click here for a printable recipe!