Christmas Chicken

December 23, 2012
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Crispy Chicken

Crispy Chicken

We had our Christmas meal today since I have to work all day Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Every other day of the year, I insist on my sons eating the way I eat unless we go out and they choose what they want from a menu. In other words, I make what pleases me and they are welcome to share with me or they are on their own. The only vegetable we had for this Christmas meal was roasted broccoli, which was delicious by the way. Fresh broccoli, trimmed of it’s fibrous outer coating, tossed with olive oil and salt and placed on a pan on the bottom rack while the chicken was cooking. It was crispy and salty, still maintaining its crunchy texture.

This chicken was made with my sons in mind. I sent them some ideas for today’s meal and this is the one they gave their thumbs up. The boneless chicken is first dipped in milk, then coated with a layer of cheddar cheese, then pressed into Ritz cracker crumbs and baked in a pan for 35 minutes. To top it off, canned cream of chicken soup was warmed in a sauce pan with two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of sour cream. This recipe came from a Pinterest board I have because it looks so good in the picture, right? Only problem with eating this way is that it stimulates my appetite instead of satisfying it. Green foods and salads satisfy my appetite without making me want seconds. Breads, crackers and rice dishes make me eat in an out-of-control way. In my mind I’m thinking, “That’s so good I have to have more.” When I eat salad, I think, “That’s good but when it’s gone, I will not desire more.”

Now that I’ve made this “Crispy Chicken” and eaten it once, I will never make it again, at least not according to the recipe on Pinterest. First of all, it doesn’t need the cheese. That cheese was totally unnecessary. The buttery taste in the cracker crumbs was delicious without the cheese on the few pieces that I pan-fried because they wouldn’t all fit in the baking dish. Also, pan-frying cut the time and made them crispier than the ones in the oven. I don’t see any health benefit to baking when you wrap each piece in cheese then drizzle cream of chicken soup with butter and sour cream over the top. I’m going back to my crispy baked chicken with no coating. I’ll post that one soon. Simple, cheap and unbelievably good. Oh, heck, I’ll just go ahead and post the recipe without the picture.

Crispy Baked Chicken

1 pkg. chicken parts, dark meat preferred but will work with breasts

Salt and Pepper

Garlic Powder

Wash and dry chicken thoroughly. Season liberally with salt and pepper and garlic powder. Place on rack in roasting pan or on foil lined pan in 425 degree oven for 1 hour or until skin is crispy and fat is rendered. (45 minutes for breasts, which are less fatty).


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Tossed Salad with Chicken and Cremini

December 23, 2012
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Spring Mix, Cremini, Camembert, cherry tomatoes, bacon.

Spring Mix, Cremini, Camembert, cherry tomatoes, bacon.

I got a new camera today, Nikon Coolpix L610, so I’m experimenting with photographing food with it.  It has a food setting with different shades of filters from blue to pink. My phone has been woefully inadequate when photographing food in restaurants in low light and there is always the problem with salads looking so disheveled. I took this one on my coffee table with a few tea candles on the side.

This is a very filling salad and so easy to make. I have a restaurant-style salad bowl for tossing the greens with the dressing which helps to dress the leaves without a heavy hand as so often happens when you pour salad dressing over top of greens. I start with the dressing in the bottom of the bowl. Usually, one tablespoon will do. After that, drop the greens and all the other ingredients over the dressing before tossing with two spoons or salad tongs. It just takes keeping a few vegetables cold in the refrigerator. I could eat this everyday.

Tossed Salad with Chicken and Cremini Mushrooms

Dressing of Choice, I used Blue Cheese

Spring Mix, approx. 2 cups

Rotisserie Chicken from HEB

Cremini Mushroom

Cherry tomatoes

White onion



Sesame Seeds

Chia Seeds

Tossed Salad with Chicken and Cremini

Tossed Salad with Chicken and Cremini





Summer Watermelon-Feta Salad at La Tasca Tapas Trailer

December 22, 2012
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Summer Watermelon-Feta Salad at La Tasca Tapas Trailer

415 Jesse Street, Austin, TX 78704

(Thanks to Austin Food Journal for the photo)

I have to admit I haven’t eaten here yet but the photo came from another blog and I just had to use it. This salad is $6 at this food trailer and looks mouthwatering delicious. I must try it next summer at Latasca Tapas. You can find them on Facebook or at

Stiles Switch Barbecue Restaurant

December 20, 2012
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Stiles Switch Barbecue Restaurant

Brisket, Sausage and Cole Slaw

Vegetables for Breakfast

December 10, 2012
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I’m starting a new diet plan called the Four Hour Body. In it you eat 4 or five meals a day and each meal consists of a protein, some type of mixed vegetables and some type of beans. For breakfast today, I had one whole egg mixed with a fourth cup of egg whites, scrambled. To accompany my eggs, I warmed some pinto beans in a skillet. On the side, I steamed some broccoli slaw and sprayed it with a little “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.”  It was weirdly good! It’s more fiber than I usually have at breakfast so maybe it will last longer. The only difference in diet dog food and regular dog food is they put more fiber in the diet dog food so that they feel full longer. So even though I eat a lot of vegetables and salads, I have not been eating beans and legumes and I have been eating cheese. On the Four Hour Body, cheese is not allowed. This change will affect my food blog. How much is yet to be seen. 

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Jack Allen’s Kitchen- Twisted Cobb Salad and Country Club Fancy Chicken Salad

December 10, 2012
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Twisted Cobb Salad

Twisted Cobb Salad

Country Club Fancy Chicken Salad

Country Club Fancy Chicken Salad

Jack Gilmore is the chef/partner with Tom Kamm behind Jack Allen’s Kitchen which describes itself as “local in source, Texan in spirit.” Jack is the former chef of the popular Z Tejas restaurant in Austin. When he decided to open his own restaurant, he planned a menu that would be a crossroads between Southern American cuisine and Southwestern cuisine which you see in the decor and the food. The pendant lights in the entry are made to look like  mason jars and when your waiter comes to take your drink orders, he brings a small plate of pimento cheese with flatbread crackers instead of the ubiquitous chips and salsa.   Part of our game plan was to wait until after 2 PM to eat because we were there for the salad and between 10 and 2 on Sunday, you have to eat from the buffet. In fact, we got there slightly before 2 and were directed to the bar to wait until 2 when the kitchen would be taking orders from the menu.

My friend and I sat out on the porch since we are having summer for Christmas this year in central Texas. There is supposed to be a cold front coming in tonight and I have never been so ready for one. The only annoyance was a bee that kept trying to go for our food but our waiter kindly brought out a glass with some lemonade in it and sat it away from us to distract the bee.

I ordered the Twisted Cobb salad, $10.99, which was large and filling. It came with grilled achiote chicken, roasted corn, grape tomatoes, cotija cheese, ranch vinaigrette and homemade corn nuts. I like the way they toss the salad in the kitchen instead of sending the dressing out on the side of the plate as some restaurants do. This salad was just to my liking. My friend said her country club fancy chicken salad was a bit too sweet for her but she was able to eat it all. I sampled it and I know what she meant. The thinly sliced pear, the fig, the candied walnuts and most likely, some sugar in the vinaigrette combined to make a savory but sweet salad. The bleu cheese was a nice contrast.

I decided to have a beer from their extensive bar menu so I had the Fireman’s #4 pale ale. I was delighted when the waiter came back with my beer and had brought a sample of one of the other draft beers for us to try, a darker Thirsty Goat amber. It’s a good way to make repeat customers because now I want to go back to have that other beer again. I ordered a hamburger to take home with me, the Killer Cheeseburger, which is huge and comes in at $9.99. Even though I peeled most of the bread off, I could still tell that the bread was a sweet variety like Hawaiian bread is sweet. The meat was cooked to preference, which I asked for medium-well and I thought it was more pink than that, it was really, really good. That one came with Swiss cheese and Russian dressing, tomato and iceberg lettuce. My total bill came to $30 but I got two meals and a beer out of it. Good food, good company and excellent service.  It was all very good and I will be back many, many times.


Twisted Cobb Salad


Country Club Fancy Chicken Salad

Packin’ A Punch Broccoli Slaw

December 9, 2012
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I always wonder what people do with those bags of shredded broccoli I see in the produce department. My neighbor, Lisa, made a delicious salad with it one year to go with our black eye peas for New Year’s Day which we have traditionally shared over the years. Hers used Ramen noodles to make an Asian inspired salad.

This one is from Food Network’s Aaron McCargo, Jr. and would be great with fish or barbecue. It has a little jalapeno pepper in it so use as much or as little as you like.

Packin’ a Punch Broccoli Slaw

1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups shredded broccoli slaw
1 red jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


In a large serving bowl, combine the carrots, broccoli slaw, jalapeno and red onion. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the vinegar, lime zest, lime juice, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes and the black pepper. Bring to a light boil over low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Add the olive oil to the vinegar mixture, pour over the vegetables and toss together to combine. Refrigerate until serving.

Texas Caviar

December 8, 2012
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Blackeye peas are very big in East Texas. I think it’s because they grow well there. East Texas, as all Austinites know, refers to the upper east of Texas, not the lower east near the coast. It’s more like east of Dallas. East Texas is a lot more like Louisiana and other parts of the South than other parts of Texas. For instance, the East Texas people know about grits with their eggs. In other parts of Texas, you are more likely to see hash brown potatoes with their breakfast.

Texas Caviar can be used as a dip with tortilla chips at a party or as a side salad or as a vegetable with brisket or barbecued chicken. The little bit of jalapeno gives it a nice bit of zing. This is the recipe I used, minus the Essence. I have a cabinet full of seasonings and Emeril’s Essence is not in there.  I am throwing in a Threadgill’s recipe at the end to give credit to an actual Austin establishment. Ironically, the Threadgill’s recipe has no jalapeno pepper in it. In addition, just because I thought it would taste good, I added Green Giants white shoepeg corn to mine (drained, of course). That’s a throw-back to my North Carolina roots.

Texas Caviar

  • 3 cups cooked, cooled, and drained black-eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced or very thinly sliced
  • jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon Emeril’s Southwest Essence (or use 1/2 tsp. each of cumin, garlic powder and paprika)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Homemade tortilla chips, for serving, or store bought tortilla or corn chips

In a bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid (such as a canning jar), combine the black-eyed peas, olive oil, red wine vinegar, onion, jalapenos, and Southwest Essence and seal tightly. Turn jar over several times to combine ingredients, then refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 3 days, turning the jar several times a day to redistribute ingredients.

When ready to serve, let black-eyed pea mixture come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes, then add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the Homemade Tortilla Chips.

Threadgill’s Restaurant’s Texas Caviar

4 cups cooked black-eyed peas, drained and cooled
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced red onion
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black pepper


Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir again before serving.

* Professional Recipe

This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and makes a large quantity. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe in the proportions indicated and therefore cannot make any representation as to the results.

Texas Caviar with Shoepeg Corn

Texas Caviar with Shoepeg Corn

Broccoli Salad-A Southern Tradition

December 8, 2012
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My sister-in-law, Anne, made this for the Thanksgiving table last year. It was my favorite side dish of the day. Since then, I have seen it in other cookbooks and websites. This recipe comes from Food Network and it’s Paula Dean’s version. I cut the mayonnaise in half with some plain yogurt and I don’t think you can tell the difference. I use White Mountain Bulgarian yogurt which is made in Austin, Texas, not Bulgaria, but it is made in the old Bulgarian tradition and has about three times as much live yogurt cultures as Greek yogurt. You can find it at HEB. It may seem a little runny if you are not used to it because it has no starches or thickeners in it. That’s why I like it.

Red tomatoes would look more like Christmas, this being December.  These yellow ones worked fine, though.

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

2-3 Large heads of Broccoli
6 to 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup raisins, optional
8 ounces sharp Cheddar, cut into very small chunks
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim off the large leaves from the broccoli stem. Remove the tough stalk at the end and wash broccoli head thoroughly. Cut the head into florets and the stem into bite-size pieces. (Scrape the tough outer part of the stem with a paring knife or vegetable peeler and the inner part of the stem is very tender.) Blanch in boiling water. (Drop into boiling water for about 5 minutes; not enough to cook it but enough to take away that harsh raw taste. Drain well and spin in salad spinner or press with a few paper towels to dry thoroughly if in a hurry.) Place in a large bowl. Add the crumbled bacon, onion, raisins if using, and cheese. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, stirring well. Add to broccoli mixture and toss gently. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.


December 5, 2012
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Tonight my professional organization had the December meeting at Maggiano’s at  the Domain on North Mopac Blvd. I had never been there before but I will definitely be going back. I have no idea what anything costs because our tab was picked up by AstraZeneca and the prices are not available on-line. There was a menu board on each table which showed what would be served during each of three courses. I thought we were going to be choosing from among several choices since they listed about four or five options for each course. However, I was so wrong. They brought it all out and put it on the table, family-style, enough for everyone at the table to sample each item. The first course was two salads, a huge plate of bruschetta with tomato topping and the most delicious crab cake I think I have ever had. It was light and not densely packed and had a very crispy coating, maybe panko crusted. The jumbo lump crab cakes came with a rich sauce that was reminiscent of remoulade.  The salads were very respectable. Not dinner salads, exactly, but very respectable side salads. The menu reveals many other salad possibilities which are more filling and have chicken or salmon, as well. There are something like 9 choices on the soup and salad menu.

The first salad was made with Granny Smith apples with Iceberg lettuce, arugula, grapes, celery, chives and walnuts. Served with bleu cheese vinaigrette, it was my favorite of the two. The second one was called Maggiano’s Salad and had iceberg and romaine lettuce, crumbled bleu cheese, crispy prosciutto and red onions. That one was served with house dressing, more like a creamy Italian. That is probably the house salad. Nothing wrong with either one of them.

The main course was tender medallions of beef tenderloin, herb crusted salmon, lobster cannelloni, a vegetarian pasta dish that I didn’t even try and asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. Dessert and coffee were served after a long pause for clearing the dirty plates and consisted of chocolate layer cake with chocolate icing and the best tiramisu I have had yet. Never have I been a big fan of the Italian dessert until tonight. Now I get why Tiramisu is so popular. The cookie part of the dish was not saturated with coffee as it usually is when I have had it before.

Maggiano’s would make a great place to have lunch and shop at Dillards and Macy’s close by. Tonight, there was a little train choo chooing around the Domain for the kids to ride. I’ll probably go back again to shop there now that I know about Maggiano’s.

Maggiano's Salad

Maggiano’s Salad


Apple Chopped Salad

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