Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Salad Smarts

For much of my childhood and into adolescence, I never quite understood the importance of salad. This was partially due to how very little attention I paid vegetables unless they were sitting on my plate, but more so it was due to the Muppets. Yes, like any other child growing up in a media-infested world, Sesame Street and the Muppets were the center of my universe. (Of course now children have their choice of Sesame Street, Baby Einstein, The Wiggles, and don't forget Dora the Explorer, but that's beside the point.) And the Muppet Movie, "Follow That Bird" was one of my favorites. At the beginning, there's a scene in a diner and whenever someone orders a tossed salad, the Muppets wearing chef hats throw some lettuce into a bowl, place it on a catapult and literally toss the salad over to the customer. Lettuce flies everywhere and covers most of the diners who don't seem to mind. (I must admit I'm smiling to myself as I write this - gets me every time!)

And such was my image of salad for most of my childhood: nothing to take note of unless flying through the air, launched by Muppets. But years have wizened me and I have come to love salad for its nutritious qualities and endless options. However, it wasn't until last week that I truly understood the amazing possibilities. Paging through a recent Crate and Barrel catalog, I stumbled upon a kitchen gadget of sheer genius. It's called the Toss & Chop. And I love it.

It looks a lot like a scissors with two parallel blades, if you can picture that. The idea is that when you hold the Toss & Chop vertically over a bowl of lettuce, the extremely sharp blades cut up the salad at you toss it. A handy safety lock ensures that I don't chop off my fingers (being the klutz that I am) and it's dishwasher safe, so clean up is easy. Thus, it is with a reluctant heart that I bid a final farewell to
my tossed salad notions and fully embrace this new world of greens... that doesn't include Oscar the Grouch.

You can find the Toss & Chop online on the Crate and Barrel site for $19.95.

Whether you're lucky enough to have the Toss & Chop or you must resort to the old-fashioned knife and cutting board, this chopped salad is a must-try. It's got a little bit of everything and an irresistible homemade dressing.

Kitchen Chopped Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette

Herb-Mustard Vinaigrette:
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
2 tsp. minced fresh shallot
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 C. red wine vinegar
1 1/3 C. pure, mild-flavored olive oil
3 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cleaned trimmed and chopped into 1/8 inch-wide strips
1/2 head romaine lettuce, cleaned trimmed and chopped into 1/8 inch-wide strips
12 large leaves basil, chopped into 1/16-inch-wide strips
2 C. (1/3 lb.) dry Italian salami, cut into thin strips
3 C. (2/3 lb.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 C. chopped garbanzo beans
4 C. (2 lb.) ripe tomatoes, diced 1/2 inch
3 C. (1 lb.) turkey breast, diced 1/2 inch
2 Tbs., chopped scallions, 1/4-inch pieces


To make the dressing: Process all ingredients except oil and Parmesan using a hand-held, propeller-blade type mixer (or use a whisk in a small bowl). Slowly blend in oil. When all oil has been incorporated, stir in Parmesan. Set aside in the refrigerator. To make the salad: Toss first 6 ingredients and dressing together in a large mixing bowl. Transfer the salad to chilled salad plates. Surround each serving with a ring of diced tomatoes and top with diced turkey breast. Garnish with chopped scallions.

Also try these for yummy chopped salad options:
Cucina Cucina Chopped Salad
Fiesta Chopped Salad

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cooking with the Chili Pepper

There are certain truths in my culinary history for which I am admittedly sheepish. For example, before last week, I had never attempted to cook with a hot chili pepper. Growing up in an Irish family on the Midwestern plains of corn (yep, I'm from Indiana, a Hoosier if you will), chili peppers never figured highly in my kitchen experience. But, I love spicy food and have since educated myself on the health benefits of chili peppers and the relative capsaicin levels (the heat culprit) in the different varieties of chili pepper. With this knowledge, I was finally ready to cook Fish Masala last week.

In my inaugural tryst with the hot chili pepper, I was certainly timid. I did not want my Masala to be tear-your-head-off HOT, so I went for a nice Serrano pepper, just below Thai and Cayenne in the punch it packs. With no experience under my belt, I didn't really know what to expect, and probably went a little overboard with my precautions. I used plastic gloves, washed my hands obsessively, and even, horror of horrors, removed all the seeds from the Serrano pepper (a large portion of the pepper's heat). I knew I was going to add ground cayenne pepper and curry powder to make my Masala, and I wanted to be careful (read: I'm a wuss).

Sadly, the Fish Masala did NOT work. I was impressed by the pungent smell of the spices that filled my apartment during cooking, but in the end, it could have used more heat. Next time, the seeds stay in. Although, I think the greater obstacle to the success of this dish was the fish itself. Tilapia or Sea Bass seem to work well with the flavors of Indian and Thai cooking. I used Kingfish, which may very well be better suited to a proper grilling. My friend Adam's summation of the recipe was this, "Eh, just use chicken." Agreed.

Chicken with Coconut Curry Sauce


6-7 chicken breast fillets
60g (2oz.) ghee

Coconut Curry Sauce:
30g (1oz) ghee
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 stem lemon grass, chopped finely
2-3 small red chilies, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
2 tsp. curry powder
340ml can coconut milk


Melt ghee in pan, add chicken, fry gently until golden brown and tender; drain, slice. Serve topped with coconut curry sauce. For sauce, melt ghee in pan, add onions, garlic and lemon grass, sauté until onions are soft. Add chilies, cinnamon, cardamom and curry. Cook, stirring, about a minute. Stir in coconut milk and simmer, uncovered 5 minutes. Remove from heat, blend or process until smooth, strain and reheat.

Monday, January 29, 2007

National Corn Chip Day

That's right ladies and gentleman - although you all woke up this morning unaware of this important event, you are now cognizant of one of the most random "holidays" to grace the American culture. Although technically it shouldn't be called a "national" holiday - all national holidays must be mandated by Congress - it certainly merits mention in our most dedicated of foodie blogs.

For me, the corn chip immediately evokes feelings of childhood. I grew up in a home where fruit roll-ups, sugary cereal and pop were all forbidden. I opened my lunch bag every day to find a sandwich on wheat bread (and not the wheat bread they market now that still tastes like white bread, this was the wheat bread that doesn't really bend) and dutifully ate my fruit leather. For those of you who aren't familiar with fruit leather, it's supposed to be a healthier version of fruit roll-ups made with real, dried fruit and little to no sugar. This is exactly how it tastes. And to a 10 year-old whose friends are chowing down on a full three feet of sugary goodness, something called "leather" just wasn't enough. (Author's note: It happens that I'm extremely grateful to my mother for instilling such excellent eating habits into my brain as a child - it's just that it doesn't quite serve my purpose here. As an adult, I highly recommend fruit leather.)

Clearly, I've digressed on my I-was-deprived-of-sugar-as-a-child tangent. But because of the lack of Doritos, Cheetos and other unnaturally cheesy snacks, I hold a special fondness for Fritos as they were somehow acceptable in my mother's view. And even years later when I have banished all chips from my pantry (except Stacy's pita chips, of course!), my peanut butter and jelly just isn't quite the same without those yellowish corn chips by its side.

Though my private love affair with corn chips was somewhat limited to Fritos, tortilla chips certainly fall into this category as well. And what better than to use tortilla chips for than dip? You can browse Recipe4Living's extensive Dips and Spreads category if you're looking for inspiration, but here's my absolute favorite:

Grandma Annette's 7-Layer Taco Dip


2 cans bean dip (Fritos' is my favorite)
3-4 avocados
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 C. sour cream
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1 pkg. taco seasoning
2-3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 small can black olives, sliced
Shredded cheddar cheese


Pit avocados, mix with lemon juice and set aside. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise and taco seasoning until well-blended. Layer ingredients starting with bean dip, then avocado, taco seasoning-mayo mixture, tomatoes, green onions, olives and finish off with cheddar cheese on top. This works best if you use a platter with a lip so the dip doesn't slide.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wonders Never Cease

The editors here at recently started a listmania list on our Amazon profile called Cool Cooking Gadgets. The idea is for us to share our love of all those slightly over-indulgent cooking tools that bring so much joy to the kitchen. While we might not need an avocado slicer, how much fun is it to have one?!? And besides, need should never, ever be applied to the culinary arts. Here are some of my favorites from that list.

Zak Designs E-Z-Rol Garlic Peeler- It might not look like much but this thing is amazing! A couple of weeks ago, I was making a delicious sea bass dinner called Pagro Alla Romano with white wine, mint, and plenty of garlic at my sister's place in Wicker Park. Across the small kitchen in her loft space, she tossed me a couple cloves of garlic which I began to tear apart hungrily with my fingernails. "Old school Caley," she scolds, and confiscates my cloves. She rather smugly slips a garlic clove into this rubbery doohickey, rolls it on the counter for a millisecond, and hands me back a perfectly peeled and not at all nicked garlic clove. "Coooool."

KitchenAid Multi Food Chopper- Lots of companies make these handy little choppers, but I just happen to like the pretty blue color of this one. You push down on the top of the chopper to control a row of blades which rotate after each motion, chopping an entire onion at super-human speed. Sure, it doesn't have the elegance of a wood chopping board, but it's clean and certainly efficient. When I want instant guacamole (and I am really uncomfortable with those mixes), I put some fresh avocado, tomato, garlic and onion together in the chopper and create a perfectly-textured guacamole in a serving made just for me.

Apple Corer and Divider- One of my favorite salads to bring to a dinner party is Apple Tortellini Salad. At its simplest, the salad contains salad greens or just spinach, cheese tortellini (Gouda is a great choice), apple, and a vinaigrette dressing made with apple cider. While multi-colored tortellini helps, the key to proper presentation in this salad is perfectly even apple slices. An apple corer and divider gives you just that, and it's fast to boot. And I feel as though I am utilizing every inch of the apple I possibly can making me a tiny bit less of a wasteful American eater. Woot.

So what are your favorite kitchen thingamajigs? Do tell.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Onion

As you all know (or as you should all know, rather), the President gave his State of the Union address last night and presented the nation and the world with his plans for the coming year. Now, all political affiliations and opinions aside, it is supposed to be an evening of tradition, formalities and nationalism. For me, it was an evening of chicken noodle soup. My mom made her special, homemade batch of rich, yellow broth and skinny soup noodles with bits of chicken, carrots and of course, onions. And seeing as Chicago hasn't seen anything warmer than 30 degrees in weeks (that's Fahrenheit for those of you who are scoffing), a big bowl of chicken soup sounded ideal.

But as I looked down into my bowl, I saw large, translucent arcs of onion swimming in my soup. Not my favorite. I don't have any major qualms about the onion. I can respect its ability to flavor just about anything, but unlike garlic, I do not like the sharp taste it leaves on my tongue. So you can imagine my disgust (ok, now I'm just being melodramatic) when I saw this intruder in my soup. But when one of those slimy suckers snuck onto my spoon, I found I rather enjoyed the sweet flavor and could appreciate its contribution to my dinner. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite draw the same conclusions from the State of the Union.

Being the good Jewish mother that she is, my mom has refused to disclose her chicken soup recipe. However, I can highly recommend this one that you can find on our site:

Feel Good Chicken Soup


4 medium celery ribs, sliced (about 2 C.) 4 large carrots, sliced (about 2 C.)
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 C.)
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbs.)
3 qts. Chicken Stock with Roasted Vegetables (recipe below)
4 chicken breast halves with ribs, cooked, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill weed
1/2 C. dry sherry
2 C. uncooked long-grain white rice
Salt and freshly ground pepper


In the bottom of a large pot cook the celery, carrots, and onions in the olive oil until soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the chicken stock into the pot. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the cooked chicken pieces to the pot. Add the dill, sherry, and rice to the pot. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes more. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Chicken Stock with Roasted Vegetables


4 chicken back pieces
4 chicken breast halves with ribs
3 whole onions, quartered
6 cloves garlic
3 large carrots, cut into thirds
1 large green bell pepper, quartered
3 celery stalks, cut into thirds
2 Tbs. fresh thyme
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary
1 bunch parsley, washed and patted dry


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken backs, chicken breasts, onions, garlic, carrots, green pepper and celery into a large roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the skin and cut the breast meat from the bone and set it aside. (Refrigerate for other use.) Place all of the vegetables and chicken bones into an 8-qt. stockpot. Cover with water. Add the thyme, rosemary, and parsley to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for at least 2 hours over very low heat. Strain the stock by pouring the contents of the pot through a colander. You may season the stock with salt and pepper at this point or wait until you use it in a soup or sauce. The stock may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or frozen for several weeks.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


For me, a full breakfast is an indulgence saved for the weekend. During the week, I scarf down some cereal, yogurt, or the occasional apple with peanut butter with a large mug of black tea (Irish breakfast perhaps) in front of my computer. For all you know, I could be enjoying that style of breakfast right now. On the weekends though, I can really enjoy a special breakfast while gazing out at the tree-lined stream behind my apartment balcony (sure, this "breakfast" is too often prepared much closer to lunch time since I also indulge sleeping in).

My breakfast this past weekend was genius. Recently, I've started visiting a smaller "International" market almost exclusively catering to the Polish, Mexican, and Indian populations in the area. With produce I've never seen in any grocery store, kielbasa, and more entertaining items like chicken feet, I love it. Almost 75% of the cheese section is dominated by something called farmer's cheese, which is all together absent from mainstream grocery stores as far as I can tell. Farmer's cheese is basically cottage cheese, pressed until dry and crumbly, and rolled in herbs or other flavorings. The little market had its own homemade farmer's cheese, which I curiously purchased.

Ok, back to my genius breakfast. In my quest to make a healthier meal, I decided on a frittata (1 egg + 1 egg white) with lots and lots of spinach. My mom would be so proud. (Look ma' I'm eatin' my green stuff, for breakfast!) With a generous sprinkling of farmer's cheese (also quite low in fat) before baking, the frittata came out perfect. This breakfast was so simple, healthy, and delicious, I have to share the love. Now I just have to count down the days until Saturday morning breakfast.

Spinach Frittata


1 egg+1 egg white
1 C. of spinach
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 C. farmer's cheese
1 tomato, plum or otherwise


Preheat oven to 350. Pour about 1/2 inch of water into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Fit a steamer basket in pan. Place the spinach in the steamer, cover, and steam until the spinach is wilted, about 1-2 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and pepper. Stir in the steamed spinach. Pour the mixture into a 6-in nonstick skillet. Top with spoonfuls of farmer's cheese. Bake at 350 for 12-15 or until set. Slide the frittata onto a plate with a rubber spatula and top with slices of fresh tomato.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I Dream of Tea (and Whiskey)

As this is my first post on our new Recipe4Living blog, I thought I would introduce myself by talking about two of my favorite things, tea and Irish whiskey (even more magical when served together). Really, these two beverages speak volumes about me. During the drudgery of these cold winter months in Chicago, I do my utmost to replace a part of my chilled blood with hot tea, hot toddies (made with Irish whiskey, recipe below), and the occasional hot chocolate. But since that last one goes against my hard-earned reputation of drinking like an old man despite being a 20-something female, let's just forget that one for now. Hot tea and toddies are superbly flavorful ways to warm up, making me slightly uncomfortable with people who scoff at hot drinks.

Don't get me wrong, coffee has its perks (excuse my pun), but it only seems to impress me with hefty amounts of cinnamon, as was introduced to me by an Ethiopian restaurant in Evanston called Addis Adeba. If you live in the Chicagoland area, check this place out. In the traditional spirit of sharing, meals are presented on a large communal platter for the table and everyone scoops up the food with pieces of spongy injera bread. No, you cannot have a fork and knife. Trust me, it's fun and finger-lickin' good.

But I digress. Despite that cinnamon treat, tea is a much more interesting experience than coffee for me, especially when it comes to loose-leaf. The varieties of tea are quite staggering, and loose leaf creates an aesthetic experience while brewing in a clear cup or pitcher. I once gave a sweetheart a special Valentine's Day red tea which look and smelled gorgeous as it brewed with rose buds and more. One of my favorite loose-leaf teas right now is White Pear from adagio, which has a surprisingly smooth flavor. And, Adagio's loose-leaf infuser is simple brilliant. You put the loose-leaf into the clear cup with hot water (it's also microwaveable), let it brew, and a valve in the bottom releases the filtered water into your tea cup. It's just as easy as a teabag and MUCH more flavorful. Check it out here.

Hot toddies are an entirely different kind of experience, perfect for chilly nights at the local pub. All you need is hot water or tea, a shot of Irish whiskey such as Jameson, or my own personal favorite, Bushmills, honey, and a lemon stuffed with cloves. It's great for a cold. Nothing coats a throat quite like it. Enjoy!

Hot Toddy


1 1/2 oz. whiskey
1 oz. honey
1 lemon wedge
2-3 whole cloves
3 oz. hot water


Add hot water to the whiskey, and then stir in the honey. Stuff the cloves into the lemon wedge and add to the drink. Enjoy.

This One's For Our Fellow Bloggers

I came across this fun viraltag Blogger Matrix compliments of A Great Pleasure. Credit for the idea behind this interesting exercise in blogging reciprocity (yay!) goes to Founder's Cafe. If you want to participate, simply copy and paste the info below, and follow the directions.

========= Copy and Paste below this line ==========


Important Update - Please read here!

1. Copy and paste the matrix of "ViralTags" below courtesy of Founders Cafe (to support Jimmy's quest of launching his own Internet Startup with a shoestring budget, please consider subscribing to his Full RSS Feed to see his triumphs and struggles in real time).

2. Substitute the Host Tag and one of the "Viral Tags" in the matrix with your anchor text of choice with your blog's URL. Please keep anchor text to a max of 3 words to keep the matrix size manageable.

3. When you get a ping back from someone that has your link in one of their "Viral Tags", practice good karma by copying his/her Host Tag's anchor text (automatically the associated link will also be copied) and paste it over one of your "Viral Tags" below.

4. Encourage and invite your readers to do the same and soon this can grow virally.

Host Tag: Chew on That

International City Travel Asian Celebrity News One Million Shirts Tech at Hand Rich Minx Internet Marketing Austria Ageless Beauty Web 2.0 Tutorials Technology Music Life infokarir jobs Manila Mom Link Love Blogging Money Secret Internet Startup Blog Web Design Blog Daily Life Technology Make Money Blogging Steve's Tech Blog Agloco Internet Marketing Daily Bulls Investing Tech Gadgets Stocks Affiliate Program Computer Seventy-Five Learn about e-Learning Tech Hack Ramblings Jack Book Screen Writer Guy Overseas Filipino Worker Chew on That Startup Entrepreneur Money ViralTags ViralTags Earn Money Online Really Smart Guy Earn Income Online Day Mind Xpression Entrepreneurship Internet Web Make Money Blogging Create a Blog Pie Hole start a blog Make Money Blogging Marketing Made Simple Tech Startups Web2.0 Music Videos ViralTags Build Rankings Fast Mrs Sparrow Hot Buzz Weight Loss Really Funny Jokes Best of Blogs The Junkie's Wife Internet Marketing German German - USA Domain Development Blogs Sundhed og Helbred Giving Link Love Business Blog Web Photoshop Tutorials Anitokid Chronikos Klapkids Chronikos esofthub's web finds Everything iPod Jason's Random Thoughts Fun Web Development Monetize Your Blog Yung Silent Whisper Stratz's Blog My Journey ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags Interesting Observations Wealth Blog ViralTags Gadgets & Technology Make Money Home ViralTags The Broken Bow ViralTags ViralTags Fanatic Space Cheezmizan with Chuva Catepol Wolly's Weblog Profitable Productive Blogging Cat on my Head Bloggointestinale 2012 Movies iMod Lorad Zarcon Instruzioni Sid05 Weblog Bayle Random Access Life Mario's Weblog Acchiappasogni Dietro e a Casa Make Money Online Anchor Text Alex 2000 My Life Personal Finance Tech Blog Business Twins Pixie Tail Gold Rushing's Blog Political Social Media Master Engrafter Mariuca Justice Investments Static Thinkbox GoldyWorld Fun Geek Loves Firefox Syafrizal Father Of One Mariuca's Perfume Gallery Investing Women Online Business Chats Webcomic Artist Anything Goes! Nihals Anything n Everything Ngadutrafik 2007 A Great Pleasure Terrible Horrible Evil Russian Jokes Videos Personal Development Blog Paid To Blog Jehzlau Concepts Nonsense & Tears Time Clock Software SEO Blog Yummy Silicon Chips Brainybimbo Nessa-Mumblings – I am Balong Batang Yagit Caribbean Travel Blog I Am Balong HUMA B Kev-walkabout Affordable Graphic Design Technology For Humans Make Money Blog Social Media Munching Taste Like Chicken Make Money Online Life's Daily MSU Spartan Sports Travel Vacation Yoga For Health Good Jokes Social Networking Mother Humor Jokes ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags ViralTags

Important: Once I get a ping back from you (I promise to do the best I can), I will add your anchor text and the associated link you designate as "Host Tag" here, replacing one of the "ViralTags" from the matrix above. As more and more bloggers copy and paste this matrix, the more backlinks you will have with your anchor text. If everybody who copy and paste from your blog does the same, pretty soon this will spread and go viral. So, the sooner you participate, the more links with anchor text you will receive.

======== Copy and Paste from Above this line ========

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rationalizing Resolutions

Welcome to the first entry of the blog - Chew on That. As editors of the rapidly growing recipe website, Caley and I live and breathe the food world and all that goes along with it. But we couldn't help but feel that we were missing out on something big... real big. And so our journey into the blogging world begins. All recipes quoted and referenced in this blog can also be found on our website We hope to dazzle you with our wits, recipes and of course, our hunger.

Entering the third week in January, I don't think it's too late to say Happy New Year to all of our readers and fans. I should probably say something encouraging here about keeping your New Year's resolutions and sticking with the gym membership (I actually went last night!!), but I'm a firm believer in the "if I really want to do it, then I'll do it" mantra. I'm also a big fan of rationalization (which I imagine comes pretty natural to most foodies). For example, last night (after I worked out - yay!) I had dinner and then dessert. Dessert consisted of toasted pound cake with fresh, sliced strawberries, chocolate sauce, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a bit of whipped cream on top (yes, it was delicious - and a really easy, but pretty dessert). Thus, my rationalization - like any dessert lover - was that I would have eaten the dessert regardless of whether I had visited the gym. But because I worked my little tush off on the Elliptical machine for an hour (ok, 45 minutes), I come out even. See how that works out?

Here's my recipe for what I'll call Pound Cake Parfait.


1 pound cake
1 box fresh strawberries (can use frozen too), sliced
Vanilla ice cream
Chocolate sauce
Whipped Cream


Toast 1 inch thick slices of pound cake in toaster oven. (You'll have to toast in batches.) Cut pound cake into cubes and divide amongst four parfait glasses (see note). Layer strawberries, ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream on top.

Note: You can use any kind of interesting-looking dish, it doesn't have to be a parfait.

Yield: 4 servings