Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Soy Chicken


Another Donna Hay recipe; more information later.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Because I'm Not Up to Talking About Food


Erin has tagged me, and I must obey.

Some Randomness About Me.

Make a list of things you can see without getting up: Batcave, shop vac, Alex's shoes, treadmill, elephant stool

What were you like when you were five? Very happy.

What are you wearing now? Blue tank top, blue pants, black slippers, red fleece blanket

What story/book/novel have you read over and over again in your life? Hmmm...just one? Helter Skelter, The Ivy Tree, Nine Coaches Waiting, the first ten Trixie Belden novels.

What’s the last thing you read/are currently reading? Just finished Buffy Season 8, Volume 1; next The Irregulars.

Do you nap a lot? I don't know if it's napping, or just sleeping when I can.

Who was the last person you hugged? Alex

What’s your current fandom/obsession/addiction? BSG, Chuck, Burn Notice

What was the last thing you ate today? Left-over Indian

What was the last thing you said aloud? Night

What websites do you always visit when you go online? Imdb, Twitter, CNN, MSNBC

What was the last thing you bought? A Batman robe & newest Backyardigans DVD for Alex's birthday, and The Strange Deaths of Batman for me.

What are you listening to right now? Good Eats

If you could have any super power, what would it be? Teleportation

What's your kitchen's color scheme? Red, white, black, bit of yellow.

What time do you usually get up? Seven on school days.

What is your most challenging goal right now? Getting to bed during the night.

Say something to the person who tagged you: I'm glad we had a chance to talk Monday.

If you could have a house–totally paid for, fully furnished–anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be? A house on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.

Favorite vacation spot? Have no idea; we don't go on vacation. Wouldn't mind going back to California, though.

What is your favorite children’s book? Alice in Wonderland.

Name one thing you just can’t resist no matter how bad it is for you: Cheesecake

If you could meet anyone famous - dead or alive - who would it be? Bob Kane

What was your first job? Washing dishes, age ten, at the Four Seasons restaurant where my mom cooked.

What’s the last movie you saw? Hmmm...Life with Father.

What's the last thing you cooked or baked? Made lovely double-dark chocolate cake.

TAGGED: Leaving it open

Step 1: respond and rework—answer the questions on your own blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, add one more question of your own.
Step 2: tag—eight other un-tagged people

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blog Party# 42: Tiki, Two---The Round-Up


Come on in, and welcome to another Blog Party! The spirit of the island is roaming free tonight, so stress, worries, etc are to be left on the porch, got it?

We have a cozy little group with us, and we've definitely got them in the mood with some fantastic music, starting with Mondo Exotica, from Ultra-Lounge, my old stand-by.

mixing in with Tahiti Dances to Drums of Bora Bora & Papeet

as well as Voodoo II

With all the food & drinks, we'll need napkins. And these wonderfully retro hula napkins are perfect.

As you've noticed, the tables are decorated with glass bowls, filled with water & these beautiful floating flower lights, in blue & red. So pretty.

For those who need it, here's some fierce tiki shot glasses.

And as it's all ladies here, we have grass skirts for anyone brave enough!

But now, we move on to the food. Yes, I'm aware of my sparkling wit & charming company but I'm not fooled: I know what you're really here for!

First one in, and coming to us from a tropical paradise, is Deb! Good to see you.
Tonight, she's giving a retro 'island' favorite a new twist with these lovely Turkey Bacon-Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms; mmm; they do look good!
Keeping the island theme going, she's serving up tall glasses of Pineapple-Mango Paradise; oh, I am definitely trying that!
Thanks ever so much for flying all that way just to help us recreate what you get to live every day, Deb!

Sarina's the next one here; she also left those fabulous tropics to brave the cold for our party; welcome!
She's got the perfect hand-held treat for us, too: Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce. One of my favorites (veg version, of course)
And channeling Trader Vic himself, she has plenty of 'Raw’ Frozen Virgin Banana Daiquiris to go around!
Wonderful as ever, Sarina; thank you!

What a wonderful surprise! And old, and absent friend, Johanna, has made her return to Blog Party! Welcome back!!
She may have been away awhile, but she hasn't forgotten how to BP; I know there's going to be a crowd around her Asian-Style Prawn Salad Bites; perfect party food!
She's also mixing up some rather unusual, but delicious-sounding, Tamarind Margaritas; I know you'll want to try it.
So very good to see you again, Johanna!

My Bakeanista buddy & retro-pal Mary is here! Come on in, girl; grass skirt?
No surprise to me, she dug back 20, then 40! years to find the recipes for these perfect 'Polynesian' Sweet & Sour Meatballs. Everyone, grab a skewer! Just watch where you put the pointy end!
To drink, she has a pitcher of Aloha Bubbly; a sweet & fruity glass that will go just right with the meatballs.
Happy you came, Mary!

Making her usual grand entrance, be sure to say 'hello' to J!
She may be out of breath, but she always makes us glad she's here, and tonight's no exception. Starting with Ham, Cheese & Pineapple-Filled Quarter-Roasted Sandwiches, and moving on to Chocolate-Drizzled Pineapple Skewers, and a very nice Pineapple Juice-Lemonade Drink; a favorite from her pre-legal days!
It's all wonderful, as always. Thanks so much for coming, J!

And what did I make? Glad you asked.

Faux Chicken Katsu

First, little bites of panko-coated chicken (or in this case, Quorn!), with a rather wildly flavored dipping sauce.

Firi Firi

These are Tahitian doughnuts; flavored with coconut milk. This was also the weirdest, most troublesome, dough I've ever encountered. I thought it was going to eat me! There was a battle, things did not look good for our heroine, but eventually I conquered the yeasty mass, and turned out at least six dozen fried pieces. So please; help yourself!

Mini Nana Kuli's Kona Burgers

Tiny burgers, flavored with soy & ginger & onion. Nothing outrageous, but cute.

Seaside Punch

And here we have a fantastic little drink, made from pineapple juice (of course!), cranberry juice, ginger ale, and pineapple sherbet. Not too sweet, and very pleasant.

Well, that wraps up another Blog Party! (and yay me, for only being two days late in posting) You girls are, as always, amazing.

I'll be sending you a head's up on February's theme soon; hope to see you all there!

Tagged with: + + + + + + + + + +

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thai Chicken Salad


Photo now. Words later.

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Just two more days to get in those entries; hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cookbook Review: The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread


Pecan Sticky Buns, the Original Version Revised

On the advice of a friend who also happens to be a trained pastry chef (hi, Katherine!), I picked up the original Amy's Bread cookbook last year. Having overcome my yeastaphobia seven or so years ago, I'm drawn to just about any yeast-based recipe I can find.

When I was given the opportunity to review this new book from Amy's, I was understandably excited. Or rather, you'd understand if you knew what my life is like.

As always, I grabbed a pad of sticky tabs. When I say there are fourteen or so recipes tabbed, I feel I need to add that this is a book filled with words. Solid introductions to each recipe, large amounts of space devoted to ingredient lists sorted by grams, ounces and volume, clear & detailed instructions and of course, full-page, full-color photos. So, each recipe can take up four or five or more pages.

I also only picked out the most-try-now recipes on my go-round, pastries or cakes I wanted to test out; doubtless another peruse will find me adding a few more tabs.

At Matt's request, I started with these practically-pornographic sticky buns, a favorite of his family.

These rolls were easy to make, and glorious to behold in their finished state. The smell overtook the house, and I gave in and ate one. Or two. I think. Delicious. Rich but not cloyingly sweet. I don't think they lasted more than 2 1/2 days; as Matt says, they're best eaten fresh!

Amy's Mom's Whole Lemon Pie

Under seasonal desserts I found this recipe for a lemon pie. Making it somewhat unique, the entire lemon is mixed up in a blender along with sugar, eggs, butter & vanilla for the filling. Such a lovely aroma.

The crust...probably my only true foodie road bump these days...was a gift: it's made in the food processor! It was one of the nicest crusts I've made yet.

It's not a great photo, it just refused to shine for me. But I gave this to my in-laws, and they loved it. This pie came together so quickly, with such amazing results, I honestly see it becoming a staple. I'm thinking of trying it with Key limes.

This is a lovely book. I like the lay-out, the content, the photos. There's information, recipes, exactly what you need to make some beautiful, sweet, baked goods.

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

California Dream(ing) Salad


Really, this is just a salad. From one of my many Moosewood cookbooks, called 'California Dream Salad'. It was a good, healthy salad.

Boston lettuce, radicchio & spinach. Shredded carrots, celery, red pepper, tomatoes, avocado, chickpeas, alfalfa sprouts, croutons...there may have been more, I honestly can't recall.

But the name, and it's very salad-y-ness, made me 'homesick' for California. The Berkeley/Oakland area, specifically.

My very first trip there, Matt took me down Telegraph Avenue. It was so fun, and different, and warm. I wore a Batman t-shirt, apparently that went over well.

We did some shopping, street vendors selling jewelry & just about anything else you could imagine. Listened to music. We had lunch at a place called Cafe Intermezzo. Popular with students, it's all about salad there. Salads, as Matt likes to tell it, 'as big as your head'. I think we were foolish enough to order a sandwich, too...but trust me, two can share one of those salads.

So, it was a good salad, but it really served to remind me how much I miss California. With places like Intermezzo, or College Avenue with a restaurant for every country respresented. The record stores, the book stores. The marina, the view of the Oakland bridge from our balcony. The smear of paint colors that was the sunset each night. That field of bamboo growing next to our apartment. Access to places like Whole Foods or 99 Ranch Market or Ikea.

Come to think of it, this was more than just a simple salad. It was a page from a diary, a trip down memory lane. And as it's so cold & miserable here, those were very welcome memories. I may have to make this salad again.

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fail Whale...er, Some Soup for Souper Sundays


I've always been a soup fan, and I'm rather fond of Deb, so making a point of adding a soup to each week's menu took zero effort.

Unfortunately, they're not all winners. This, sadly, doesn't even deserve a certificate for participating.

This was to be a pretty simple peasant soup from Lynne Rosetto Kasper (she of NPR). Made two pots, preparing the recipe in halves, as the broth is made with smoked meat-on-bone. I used lots & lots of Bacos (which, ironically, are made of soy) to flavor ours.

Lots of veggies, water, barley. It's not like I'm a novice cook; I can follow a recipe. But this? Neither of us were impressed. It tasted like water with barley & chunks of other things. Practically no flavor at all.

It wasn't a terribly difficult recipe, but did require a bit of time. For the effort, such as it was, I expected something considerably more flavorful.

I did my best to pick out the potatoes, to feel it wasn't a complete loss. But alas, it was. Pups got soup for supper!

Hope all the other Soupers had better luck!

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chile Cashew Chicken


Not much to say here. A nice little stir-fry type recipe, another Donna Hay.

Ginger, onions, red pepper, chicken (or in this case, Quorn), rice noodles, chilies, cashews. Good.

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

14 & .5


I rarely get cravings, and there's very little in the way of baked goods that even come close to tempting me. But I do love crossiants. Oh, my, do I ever.

Unfortunately, not since we left California have I come across a truly good one. I keep looking, of course. You know, for research purposes. Willing to give 'em a try. For science.

It's not as though I'm eating them on a daily basis, but every once in a while I just want one of those golden crescents.

To this day, I hold up the Rockridge Market Bakery as my croissant standard. I've made them a few time at home, with varying results.

After some back and forth with breadchick, I decided to give Martha's recipe a chance. Yes, she's all pretentious & whacks away at the average home cook's self-esteem (and in fact, that of women in general; I'm so sorry I don't grow my own cotton so I can make clothes for my entire family. bad, deficient, me), but she's a good source for recipes.

So yesterday was croissant-making day. I followed this recipe, and despite the fact it took well over fourteen hours from start to finish...mostly due, I think, to the near-freezing temperatures in the house stunting the dough's risings...I was fairly impressed with the results.

Perhaps my oven runs a bit high, maybe due to the tiles I keep in there at all times; whatever the reason, my croissants cooked up in considerably less time. What really mattered, though, is this: they were flaky, buttery, and good

Took me over half a day to make them. Not nearly so long for everyone else to finish them off.

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Smoked Chicken, Lime & Avocado Pasta


This was such a pleasant surprise!

Another Donna Hay recipe, it's pasta tossed with a dressing of olive oil, lime zest & juice, salt & pepper, and a bit of sugar.
To this, add thinly sliced smoked chicken (or in our case, smoked Boca 'chik' patties!), and arugula.

Top with avocado & grated Parmesan.

I'd been worried it would be tart, or overwhelming. Instead, the lime mostly brightened the pasta. The smokiness of the chicken (or faux product) paired with the peppery arugula, and creamy avocado...well, I can only tell you that it was really good. Alex literally sang it's praises.

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Souper Sundays: Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup


Another Sunday, another soup. Another chance to join up with Deb & Souper Sundays.

This soup was all for Matt. I think the name explains all.

I used this recipe, with a few changes. First, for the broth, I roasted the chicken beforehand, giving it a deeper & richer flavor. No cilantro, as I didn't want the soup to taste like dishwater.

I had some lime-infused rice from another dish, so substituted that for the plain or brown rice. Matt won't eat sweet potatoes, so white instead.

Skipped frying tortilla strips, to save time, and just used chips. And naturally, our avocados were in bad shape...

But he loved it. A spicy, warming, filling soup. And it made the house smell amazing.

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Balsamic & Thyme Chickpea & Chorizo


We don't really set resolutions in our house, although we do think of goals for ourselves, and the family.

One thing we want to do is add more ethnic & flavorful dishes to the menu. It also helps if these dishes use only a few ingredients, good strong flavors, and and can be prepared quickly.

Ok, I can do that. I just turn to Donna Hay.

This dish was wonderful. And all the things we wanted. Came together fast, good flavors.

A bit of fresh thyme, 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar (this is where you want the quality stuff, not some random bottle from your local chain grocerymart), some olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper; process briefly.

Pour this over some canned/drained chickpeas; let sit.

Slice chorizo, fry a few minutes. Add in chickpeas, with vinegar, and cook till chickpeas are warm. Eat. Clean your plate. Get more.

Tangy, with an almost sweetness. Filling, and good. Served with a salad, it's a good, fast, meal.

(oh, and yes....Alex & I had a vegetarian sausage version)

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Friday, January 09, 2009

What I did on my Christmas Vacation


For Christmas eve day, we drove to North Carolina to spend time with my mom, step-dad & 'baby' sister. We had a lovely brunch, watched Alex get spoiled with Lego's, played with Jack & new puppy Max, and finished up with a guided tour of the Biltmore.

My mom's a pastry chef at the DeerPark, one of the restaurants on the estates. And we not only saw that, but various spots on the grounds (Alex had great fun meeting all the animals, including a retired pair of ENORMOUS work horses), the gift shop at the winery where my sister works, and a few other spots.

We also toured the Biltmore house, itself. Oh, my...gorgeous. And big. And full of steps! I don't think my knees have recovered yet (as I'm sure the Wii would be happy to tell me).

No photos allowed in the house, but I do have shots of the stables, the 'farm', and other spots. What I share with you, however, is this beautiful gingerbread house my mom & the others in her restaurant made. Isn't it lovely?

There's an even more impressive gingerbread building, of the Biltmore itself, on the lowest level of the estate. Again, no photos. Mom's promised to send a picture soon. It's...massive. I think I got a cramp in my hand just looking at all the detail work they did on that thing.

Time to unpack your grass skirt, and gather your coconuts, because for our 42nd get-tether, it's Tiki, Two here at Blog Party!

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Blog Party#42: Tiki, Two


Happy 2009, Blog Party-ers!

It's a new year, and a whole new batch of party themes to explore.

As mentioned some months ago, to help celebrate BP's third year, we're taking on both new & old themes. This month, we're looking back at one of our earliest parties, Tiki Party. Over three years ago!

It's a chance to get your Polynesian on, and serve up some tropical appetizers & cocktails.

With a somewhat late-ish announcement this month, for January only I'm pushing the dates around: we're a week behind, so you'll want to get your entries in by Friday, 23 January and the party itself will show up that Sunday, the 25th (see last month's round-up for more on date changes).

As always, if you have questions about Blog Party, visit our 'Everything You Wanted to Know About Blog Party But Where Afraid to Ask' page. Still puzzled? Email me at thehappysorceress at gmail dot com...and of course, send those Tiki-inspired entries my way!

Tagged with: + + + + + + + + + +

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Proof of Life


Doolin manages to get some sleep, despite the fortress of toys. And yes, that's the Batcave in the lower left corner.

Or, more to the point, proof of existence. Someone had to point and click, and the dogs don't have thumbs so...

Still here. Be back...soon-ish. I hope!

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