Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Mexican Meatball Soup

April 29, 2010
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This recipe had all the trappings of a weeknight success story – it was simple, it didn’t require a ton of ingredients (and most of them were already in the fridge or pantry), and it utilized flavors that my husband and I both enjoy.  I was also optimistic since the idea came from Real Simple, which is usually a good source for easy dinners.

Well, the idea was a lot better than the actual end product.  The meatballs were pretty tasty, but the soup…well, it tasted like pureed salsa (which is not a good thing).  Perhaps if you subbed chicken stock for the water it might balance the flavors – but overall, I feel like there are definitely better soup recipes out there.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla chips, crushed, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 cups mild jarred salsa (about 1 1/2 jars, each 16 ounces)
  • 1 avocado, cut into pieces

Heat broiler. In a bowl, combine the beef, scallions, tortilla chips, cilantro, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls (about 24) and place on a broilerproof baking sheet. Broil until beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the salsa with 1 cup water. Transfer to a large saucepan, add 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs, reduce heat, and simmer until cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.

Serve the soup with the avocado, cilantro sprigs, and tortilla chips, if desired.


Recipe: Crisp-Skinned Bourbon Chicken

April 28, 2010
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Whenever chicken goes on sale at the local supermarkets, my mom and I tend to go into apocalypse mode and start stocking up.  Thus, we wind up with a freezer full of the stuff, and we struggle to find new and interesting ways to use it.

This recipe moved to the top of my stack due to my need to use up some bone-in chicken breasts.  Well, you know what they say about necessity and invention – even though I didn’t create this recipe, I am so glad I made it.  The dish was bursting with flavor, and fairly simple to prepare.  A couple of tips: 1) Don’t freak out like I did when you read that you’re supposed to leave the chicken (skin down) in the skillet for 15-20 minutes.  Be patient – waiting to flip the chicken until that point will result in the fantastic, crispy skin that makes this dish so awesome.  2) Make extra sauce.  It is that good.  I used it on leftover chicken, and then I made more to ladle over pork loin.  3) Use decent bourbon, or you’ll get more of an alcohol flavor than you want.

I wish I had a photo to share, as the browned chicken skin was really beautiful.  Oh, well – you’ll just have to make this dish to find out how lovely and yummy it is!

  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp cornstarch
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on, trimmed of excess fat (note: I used bone-in, skin-on breasts, since that’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Whisk bourbon, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, Cajun seasoning, garlic, cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a bowl until sugar has dissolved.

Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken, skin-side down, until skin is well browned and crisp, 15-20 minutes. Carefully turn chicken skin-side up and cook over medium heat until meat registers 175 degrees, 5-8 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter.

Pour off excess fat from skillet and add bourbon mixture, simmering until thickened, about 2 minutes.


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Recipe: Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Slaw

April 26, 2010
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I admit, I was skeptical of this Real Simple recipe from the start – after all, it called for a ketchup-based glaze.  Much to my surprise, however, the ketchup (combined with the honey and chili pepper) kept the pork super moist and added a unique and tasty flavor.

This is a great weeknight meal – quick (and there’s not a lot of active prep/cook time), easy, healthy, and tasty.  I personally loved the slaw, but even though I halved the amount of cilantro suggested by the recipe, my dining companions were still a bit overwhelmed by that particular flavor.  So, if you’re not a fan, maybe you can leave the cilantro out altogether and substitute a different herb (basil might work, as it has that same refreshing quality).

If you want to cut the prep time even further, buy pineapple that has already been peeled and cored.  It will be more expensive, but it definitely streamlines the process.  Enjoy!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
  • 1 small jicama (about 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 1/2 small pineapple—peeled, cored, and cut into thin sticks
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Heat oven to 400° F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, honey, and chili pepper. Brush the pork with half of it, transfer the skillet to oven, and roast, turning once, until the pork is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Brush with the remaining glaze and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the jicama, pineapple, bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the pork.

* Sorry for the lack of photos (in this and other future posts) – my camera went through a little cranky phase, and I lost a bunch of pictures.  Bummer!


Fundraiser update

April 18, 2010
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Before I head out of town for the next two weeks (first to Tampa/St. Pete and then to Minneapolis/St. Paul), I thought I’d update everyone on the fundraisers I mentioned at the beginning of the month.

The Food Blogger Bake Sale was a HUGE success!  Tami of Running With Tweezers secured a great location and TONS of bakers, and the sale raised over $1,600 for Share Our Strength.  I donated three key lime pies, and I have no idea how much they went for or who got to take them home, but I am honored to have been a (small) part of such an important and awesome event.  Congrats to all who participated, especially Miss Tami!

As for my cooking class…well…that wasn’t so successful.  I had a little bit of interest, but at the end of the day, there wasn’t enough to justify the event (I’m not sure if it’s my Gwinnett county location or something more personal…haha).  So, I found a different way to incorporate my love of cooking into my Team In Training fundraising.  I’ve started selling my wares!  So far, I’ve sold a key lime pie and probably 8-10 jars of homemade jam (raspberry and fig/balsamic), and everyone has given me really good feedback.  I tried the raspberry myself on some pancakes last weekend, and it was the bomb.  After I get back from my business trips, I’m going to do some more canning and maybe even some pickling, so let me know if you’re interested in purchasing anything!  I’ll also do special orders, if you have a particular item in mind.  Of course, you can always just make a donation here!

Now…tonight is my last dinner at home for a while, so I better go figure out what to cook!


Recipe: Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Herbs

April 7, 2010
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I find it really funny that deviled eggs are a super-popular Easter treat, ya know, since the word DEVIL is featured so prominently.  Tee.  Anywho, since I don’t celebrate Easter, I get my satanic egg fix at picnics – and lo and behold, I went to a picnic just recently!

As I had just been in Utah for a week, I brought a big Chick-fil-a nugget tray as my “main course” (and, as you can imagine, it was gone in about 30 seconds).  But I couldn’t show up without some kind of homemade treat – after all, I have a reputation to uphold.  I saw these eggs in a recent issue of Cooking Light magazine, and they seemed like the perfect twist on a spring classic.  They are easy to make, but difficult to make beautiful – no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get the cuts to be perfectly smooth and even (thus the lack of a decent picture).  Oh, well, they tasted yummy!

  • 8  large eggs
  • 1/4  cup  fat-free sour cream
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh chives
  • 2  tablespoons  reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1  tablespoon  Dijon mustard
  • 2  teaspoons  minced fresh tarragon
  • 2  teaspoons  minced fresh dill
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  ounces  cold-smoked salmon, finely chopped
  • 16  small dill sprigs (optional)
  • 16  small tarragon sprigs (optional)

Place eggs in a large saucepan. Cover with cool water to 1 inch above eggs; bring just to a rolling boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold running water until cool.

Peel eggs; cut in half lengthwise. Place yolks in a medium bowl; mash with a fork until smooth. Add sour cream and next 7 ingredients (through salmon); stir well. Spoon mixture into egg white halves (about 1 tablespoon in each half). Garnish with dill and tarragon sprigs, if desired.


Worthy Food Fundraisers

April 2, 2010
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On this beautiful Friday morning, I thought I’d give you Atlanta peeps a heads-up on some ways you can eat well AND do good!

Two weeks from tomorrow, on April 17, 2010, is the 1st Annual Food Bloggers Bake Sale!!!  The bake sale is a nationwide event happening across the country on that date, and it’s all in coordination with Share Our Strength – the country’s leading hunger based charity – and the opening of their fundraising season. 

In Georgia, delicious goodies will be on sale on the 17th from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Cabbagetown Market in the heart of the Cabbagetown area of Atlanta.  The nice folks at Agave Restaurant have donated the use of their parking lot for the day.  It’s less than a block walk to the Cabbagetown Market.  AND, to sweeten (haha!) the deal, Agave has agreed to give a $10 off coupon to every person who makes a purchase at the bake sale!

I will be contributing a few of my famous key lime pies and probably some blueberry muffins (hell, and maybe even some savory scones, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious).  So, come on out and treat yourself to some treats – baked by your very own local food bloggers!  (If you can’t make it on the 17th, you can make a donation here: http://join.strength.org/site/TR/CEM/General?team_id=92800&pg=team&fr_id=1110)

The following day, I am hosting a cooking class to benefit my fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (I am training for the Chicago Marathon, in addition to my usual triathlons – read more here).  The theme is “Eating for Athletes,” and it will focus on quick and healthy meals and snacks for the athlete on the go!  While gearing up for these endurance events, I have had to learn how to prepare GOOD fuel for my body so that I don’t gorge on junk when I’m hungry – which is basically all the time.

I will demo at least three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and at least one snack.  I will also provide munchies and adult beverages during the class, in addition to recipe cards and perhaps some other surprise goodies.  :-)  The cost for all of this is a mere $50 tax deductible donation – such a deal!

Again, the class is April 18, at about 1 PM (in the Lawrenceville/Duluth area).  If you’d like to attend, please email me at betty.rhoades@gmail.com in order to confirm your spot and get payment instructions and directions.  Of course, if you cannot attend the class, feel free to make a donation here.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions about either event.  Hope to see you at one or both!


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