Monday, September 27, 2010

Spicing things up a bit with a delicious giveaway

My winners for this giveaway are Mary, winner of the Savory Spice Shop Gift Pack and Laurie and DaniD who each won the sample packs. I wish I had something for everyone but be sure and enter my next giveaway for a $65.00 CSN gift code. Good luck!

My birthday was yesterday and even though I usually like to add a little bit of humor to my blog posts, there is really nothing funny about it. I have had more birthdays than I care to admit, but I guess it is better than the alternative. You might think that I would have at least looked forward to a nice present or two, but at my age I really don’t need one more thing. I don’t need anything to decorate my house, or even myself. I have enough perfume to last me to the end of my life. I have more jewelry than I will ever wear and my more than ample hips do not need one more birthday cake, but I’ll have one anyway. Wow, I guess I’m really a pretty lucky girl!

Since I don’t want to come off sounding like a martyr, I did come up with a “want” so my family wouldn’t feel bad. They were all surprised when I told them that I wanted a snow blower. If you’ve read my blog more than once, you’ve probably seen me say that I hate winter and snow removal is the number one reason, so what the heck. I don’t want a wimpy snow blower either, when it comes to these guys, its go big or go home. I want a big Sears Craftsman that will blow snowballs against my neighbor’s window just to let him know that there’s a new toy at the Harris house. We will no longer have to be jealous of hearing our neighbors down the street start their engines while we are in our driveway wielding our prehistoric snow shovels. No sir, from now on we’ll be running with the big dogs!

Since I am in a party mood, I thought I’d have a giveaway for my birthday. I am really excited about this one because it comes from one of my absolute favorite places to shop in the Denver area. We may have to fight snow all winter but we also get to go to Savory Spice Shop anytime we want. I really love this place because not only does it have every spice imaginable (and they are freshly ground), but I love the ambiance.

The experience actually starts before you even open the door, because from half a block away you can smell an intoxicating peppery scent that lets you know something special is close by. The Littleton location is where I shop and I love it because it reminds me of an old apothecary. Every spice has a tester (gotta love that) and you are invited to have a taste and dust any unwanted bits onto the wooden floor which probably adds to the beautiful aroma.

As you can tell, I am a devotee. I am such a believer that I contacted them about sponsoring this giveaway and they were kind enough to supply me with a Harvest Time gift pack that you will love. It includes a jar of Tarragon Shallot Citrus Seasoning, Mild Yellow Curry, Wash Park All-Purpose Seasoning and Homestead Seasoning. Even if you aren’t my lucky winner, I encourage you to visit their website, learn a little more about them, and order something for yourself or any foodies on your gift list. It is a real treat.

For this post’s recipe, I’m using a couple of their delicious spice blends. Piri Piri has been a favorite blend of mine since I first tried it on grilled chicken at a little restaurant in Nottingham. Today, I’m grilling chicken wings sprinkled with Savory Spice Shop’s blend and a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice. To cool things off a bit, I’ve used their French cheese sprinkle (which is also delicious sprinkled on popcorn), a little sour cream and a few other touches to make a wonderful cool and creamy dip to accompany them. So whether you are hosting a tailgate, a birthday or any other kind of party, you’re going to love adding these recipes to your table.

In addition to the Harvest gift pack that Savory Spice Shop is supplying, I’ve going to give two additional followers a Piri Piri and French Cheese sprinkle sample prize pack so you can try my two recipes on your own.

Inside Savory Spice Shop

For those of you who can't get by their shop to pick up their ingredients, I've also included a recipe for my own homemade blend of these spices so you can duplicate my recipes. In my home opinions differ about what makes a great chicken wing, so I prepared my wings in two different ways, grilled half and fried half. They were both delicious but the grilled wings were definitely spicier than the fried. If you fry yours and would like them to have a entra little kick at the end, I advise you to increase the dry spice mixture by about 50% and sprinkle it over the wings after they have been fried but still hot.

Piri Piri Chicken Wings with Cool Herb and Cheese Dip

Piri Piri Chicken Wings the Savory Spice Shop way

4 pounds chicken wings (approximately 40 wing portions)
1 – 1/2 tablespoons Savory Spice Shop Piri Piri blend
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
Juice from 1 lemon

Rinse chicken well and pat dry. Lay wing portions in a single layer on a clean, dry surface and set aside.

Combine Piri Piri blend, ginger and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of the spice over chicken. Turn chicken over and sprinkle with the remainder of the spice.
In a large gallon zipper seal bag, pour in half of the lemon juice before placing the wings in the bag. Add the remainder of the lemon juice on top; seal bag and knead the wings around to coat. Place bag in the refrigerator and marinate for at least one hour.

Place chicken wings over hot coals and grill until they are cooked through and are a golden brown. To fry, remove chicken from the bag and roll in approximately 3/4 of a cup of all-purpose flour mixed with 1/3 of a cup of corn starch. Tap wings to remove any excess flour and fry until golden brown in hot vegetable oil that is approximately 1” deep. Fry until cooked through and golden brown.

Alternate Piri Piri Spice Blend

2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blend all dry ingredients and prepare chicken as directed above.
To make chili infused oil, prepare as directed and add 1/2 cup olive oil, shake well and store in the refrigerator to infuse for at least one, but up to 7 days.

Savory Spice Shop's Paris Cheese Dip

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons Savory Spice Shop Paris Cheese Sprinkle

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Alternate Herbed Cheese Dip

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, Romano Cheese or Bleu cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch white pepper
2 green onions, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 –1/2 teaspoon fines herbs

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

I served my wings and dip with bell pepper strips, sugar snap peas and cucumbers. In addition to the fresh vegetables, I also served some sweet potato fries that were beyond good with the wings.

To enter for a chance to win the Harvest Time gift set or one of the two sample sets, you must be a follower or sign up as a follower and leave a comment stating your desire to enter. Best of luck to all of my followers and welcome and good luck to all of my new followers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New rules for old cool

It’s official, I have become my mother. I have really made an effort not to let this occur, but despite my best efforts the inevitable has happened. It wasn't always like this. My children have no idea, but I was really cool in my younger days. In fact I would like to emphatically state that I was cooler than either of them are now, or ever hope to be. Now that we have that straight, I must admit that I may be more of a 1970s and 80s cool than a 2010 cool, but cool all the same. Case in point, my daughter just ordered some Sperry Topsiders that we all wore in the 80s but felt she had to translate for me and call them “boat shoes.” Little does she know Topsiders and popped collars were regulation Sunday brunch attire for me and my friends in 1985. To round off the look, we all wore Ray Ban Wayfarers which are on her wish list too. Now maybe if she’ll just listen to me, she’ll start wearing shoulder pads and an asymmetrical haircut and get the jump on everyone. It appears to me the old adage, "What goes around comes around" just may be true.

My daughter is now doing her best to keep me as cool as a mother is allowed to be, but I am afraid that she might just be fighting a losing battle, because somethings I get and somethings I don't. Thanks to her passing bits of her university social education on to me, I now know that in college the weekend starts on Wednesday (I did not know that). The new piercing that she and her best girlfriend just got behind their ears is called a dermal. We’re not quite sure what the flesh eating bacteria that could rot their heads off because of it is called, but I’m sure we’ll find out in the ER. No respectable kid leaves to go out for the evening until 9 or 10 (it seems like I vaguely remember this). The profanity laced noise that comes out of her speakers when she starts her car is called music (I don’t think I‘ll ever get this one). Sometimes girls have dark roots on purpose (you’ve got to be kidding). These five simple lessons are just the tip of a huge iceberg of knowledge that is an ongoing process of discovery for me, but rest assured I'll keep you all abreast of any new developments. I really worry about those of you who don’t have someone keeping you up to date on what’s hot and what’s not. I mean you could actually be walking around unaware of how clueless you are and there’s not much worse than that. Well, I guess I’m going to go do a little “cool” homework now. There’s a guy performing on the Today Show this morning named Robert Plant. From what my son tells me, he used to sing with an awesome band called Led Zeppelin. Sounds interesting.

To thank my daughter for all of her hard work, I prepared a dozen or so breakfast burritos for her to take back to college. This was actually my friend Joanie’s brainstorm for her own college age daughter. She prepares a bunch of them, freezes them and sends them home with her daughter so she can have one anytime the mood strikes her. Whether you serve these burritos fresh with a fruit salad for a weekend breakfast, or freeze them for later, you’re going to love them. I have also included a recipe for a delicious Mexican style chorizo for those in the UK who may not be able to find it ready made.

Breakfast Burritos

6 – 10” burrito size flour tortillas or 8 small taco size flour (or corn) tortillas
1 – 2 large green chilies
2 tablespoons butter
8 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 cup crispy fried fresh or frozen hash brown potatoes
1/2 pound (250g) chorizo or 6 rashers bacon, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa and/or fresh coriander (cilantro)

Wrap tortillas up in a couple of pieces of foil and place inside of a warm oven to heat while the eggs are prepared.

Place the green chilies under the grill or broiler or over an open flame until the skins are charred and blistered on all sides. Place inside a paper or plastic bag to sweat for 5 minutes. Remove from bag and place on a cutting board. Scrape the skins off of the chilies before chopping well; set aside until ready to use.

Place butter into a non-stick frying pan that has been heated over a medium high heat. While the butter is melting mix together the eggs, water, salt, pepper and green chilies in a medium size bowl; pour into the hot frying pan with the melted butter and cook until, stirring frequently until the eggs are about half way cooked. Add at the green chilies, chorizo and hash browns, stir to combine; cook for a few minutes longer. When the eggs are soft scrambled, sprinkle the cheese over the top, remove from the heat and stir a time or two; set aside.

Lay warm tortillas onto a clean, dry surface; scoop equal amounts of the egg mixture into the center of each tortilla. If you are making tacos, just fold them in half and serve. If you are making the burritos, roll one edge over the egg mixture before folding long edges in and finish rolling like a cigar. Serve immediately with salsa and fresh coriander.

This recipe makes 6 nice size burritos or 8 small tacos.

Mexican Style Chorizo

1 pound (500g) ground pork or turkey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons white vinegar

Place all of the ingredients into a medium size bowl. Mix well with a large spoon or your hands until everything is well incorporated. At this point you can either, fry, freeze or incorporate into your favorite recipe.

To fry: place desired amount into a medium size non-stick frying pan and cook to a golden brown and cooked through, chopping meat up as it cooks.

Friday, September 10, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough I Make Chicken, Corn and Green Chile Chowder

My son and I had one of those parent /teenager arguments yesterday. As usual, it got pretty ugly with me telling him he was selfish and self-centered. He on the other hand, told me that I was disrespectful to him. Well, excuuuuuuuse me for being disrespectful to a fifteen year old! Boy, I guess I’ve got some nerve not paying the proper respect to someone who is kind enough to allow me the pleasure of washing his clothes, feeding him and his reptiles and scouring his toilet. He is even good enough to let me drive him to and from school every day and wherever else his heart desires, and he doesn’t even complain about it. I guess I need to start realizing how lucky I am.

Man, did I ever get the short end of this respect thing. I was taught by my parents that respect was something that was earned and measured by your actions and character, not by birthright. Respect wasn't the only thing that parents in my day didn't freely pass out. My peers and I walked back and forth to school, six miles, in the snow and broiling south Texas sun, hungry, and without shoes. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea.

I can tell you one thing without exaggeration; we didn’t get Cadillac Escalades for our first car or school trips to Europe at fourteen. My son and daughter didn’t get these things either, but some of their friends did. See what we’re up against? In my day, we kids bought our own cars and worked all summer long to earn the money to put gas into them. If we wanted to get a tattoo, then we had better join the Navy.

Our parents didn't take us, sign the permission slip and then get one to match. We also weren’t told that our feelings were the only ones that mattered; personally, my parents were stuck on this crazy “do unto others” thing. We were encouraged to try everything, and when we won at something, our achievements were celebrated with a pat on the back, not a ticker tape parade. When our heads got too big and we became too full of ourselves, we were knocked down a peg or two, just to keep us grounded. Looking back, I guess my stupid old parents knew something after all.

After I had my first child, it didn't take me long to realize that this parenting thing isn't as easy as I thought. It is not for the faint of heart or the lazy. If your needs come first in your mind, do society a favor and skip having children, because as soon as your child is handed to you, your little party is over. They want YOU not things. It is a very thin line between giving your children everything you never had and giving them too much, but it’s not rocket science, you can figure it out.

You may want to be cool with your children, but beware, because being cool is dangerously close to being a pushover. Being a good parent is sometimes a dirty job, but it is the most important and rewarding one you will ever do. It is worth the effort, I promise. Just remember, you must pay very close attention to these people because they will go feral on you in a heartbeat.

After our argument, I told my son his own little party was over; no more rides to and from school. He is now riding the bus and doing his own laundry. Well, I should have done my research because our school district requires an I.D. and a pass to ride the bus home (long story, but he has neither). Oh well, I’m stubborn and I’ll figure it out. All I can say to my wonderful boy (who happens to be just as stubborn as I am) is, it’s a very long walk home young man, your dirty clothes are piling up and I love you more than you will ever know.

When the going gets tough in my house the tough (me) get cooking. Since I will spend most of my day worrying about how my son will get home from school, I’ll be chopping and sautéing to keep my mind off of things. Today, I’m going to prepare a new recipe of mine that incorporates my favorite late summer ingredients. I’m making an extra big batch so I can freeze some of it to enjoy in the dark, cold days of winter.

Chicken Sweet Corn and Green Chile Chowder

2 chicken breasts, partially frozen to make slicing a bit easier
4 slices smoked bacon, thinly sliced across
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 – 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 large (1/2 cup, 125ml) fresh roasted green chilies (Hatch are the best), skins removed and chopped
3 – 1/2 cups (875ml) water, divided
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 rounded tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (120g) shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup (250ml) whipping cream
1 tablespoon lightly packed finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice chicken breasts into thirds lengthwise. Holding the breast slices together, slice very thinly across; set aside until ready to use.

In a non-stick stockpot set over medium high heat, cook the bacon until it is golden brown. Add the chopped onion and sauté until they are transparent; add the garlic and green chilies and sauté for one minute longer before adding the chicken pieces and cooking for approximately 3 – 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Add corn and three cups of the water, bringing to a simmer before adding the chicken bouillon, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Just before the 15 minutes is up, make a slurry by placing the flour in a small bowl and, while stirring constantly, adding the remaining 1/2 cup (125ml) water in a slow stream. Remove the cover from the pot and slowly pour in the slurry while stirring the soup. Turn the heat up to medium and, while stirring constantly, cook the soup for approximately 2 minutes longer. Add the Parmesan, cheddar, whipping cream, cilantro and salt and pepper. Heat for a moment longer before removing from the heat and serving piping hot.

*If you decide to freeze this for later, cook as directed but omitting the cream. Freeze in a heavy duty container. When you are ready to serve it, thaw and add the cream before serving.

Serves 4-5