The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It

Defending Jacob with Fruit!

Bookclub! One of my favorite things ever.

Last night, we met to discuss William Landay’s book Defending Jacob. The book was twisted. I think I was the only one who didn’t love it, but I did like it. I enjoyed the curves in the story and the way it left so much to think about. We had a great discussion about it, and we realized that there are lots of ways to interpret the story and what happened to the family. It was a great book to talk about, but I would not want to read it without a group of friends to bounce ideas off of. Thank goodness for bookclub friends.

We also, of course, ate great food.

My mom made her now famous asparagus via Trisha Yearwood. We also had homemade pimento cheese, chicken salad from Sam’s, and lots of fresh fruit. Devine.

Dessert by our hostess was lemon ice box pie ice cream from Southern Living. Amazing.

I made a few new dishes since I had the time to try something new. Another reason to love summer, I say.
First, I made Rachael Ray’s Cherry-Mozzarella Crisps since I found good looking fresh cherries at Wal-Mart. The recipe was easy. The cherries turned into this beautiful color and sweet sauce.
Next time, I would flip the bread before I topped them with the cheese, because the bottoms were a great golden brown color while the tops looked kind of greasy from the olive oil.
Too bad I figured that out too late. When I took them to dinner, they were not as good as when I tested them at home while they were hot. They were still interesting, though.

I also made a Monte Cristo Strata from Food and Wine. It was a hit, and it was easy. I got everything I needed from Kroger’s deli counter and used smoked Gouda. Easy. I assembled the dish then let it sit in the refrigerator to absorb all the juices for about an hour. I also adjusted my baking time to about 45 minutes to make sure the middle was done.
A good time was had by all.


Two Day Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin
May 6, 2013, 2:12 am
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , ,

This recipe is a good one-even if I did it in a unique way.

I found this recipe in Rachael Ray’s magazine. Usually when Rachael’s magazine shows up, I thumb through it, and I throw it in the recycle bin. A few recipes in her December issue, however, were interesting.

Of course, I didn’t have all the fancy ingredients that the recipe called for, and so I made do. I also started it one morning for supper the next day.

Sometimes I like to drag stuff out.

Here is how I did it:
A 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Combine the garlic and red pepper flakes and sprinkle over the pork. Gently sprinkle the salt and pepper over the pork too-you don’t need a lot of salt here. Wrap the seasoned tenderloin in plastic wrap and place it in a container in the refrigerator all day.
Go do random things like shop, eat Chinese, and watch mind-numbing TV.

Later that night, about two hours before bedtime, decide it is time to cook the pork. Remove the plastic wrap. Cut several strips of bacon in half. Cover the pork loin with the halved bacon so that the pork is completely covered. Then, transfer the pork to a roasting pan and roast at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.

After the pork has roasted and your kitchen smells divine, sleepily remove the pork from the oven, allow to cool, place it in a container, and return it to the refrigerator for tomorrow. Go to bed and dream of that smell.

Around supper time the next day, wrap the pork loin in aluminum foil and warm in a 300 degree oven for about fifteen minutes.

This pork is unbelievably juicy and the bacon is delicious. Of course, you can wrap anything in bacon and it will be delicious.

Food and The Murderer’s Daughters

Book club this month was Randy Susan Meyers’s book The Murderer’s Daughters. While not everyone was amazed by the book, I liked it a lot. It was different from so many other books out there, and it gave me a lot to think about. I like that in a book. Our discussion was good, and, of course, the food was outstanding.

I chose two dishes to take the this month’s meeting: a crab bread pudding that I found in Food and Wine and Rachael Ray’s Caesar deviled eggs

I picked the deviled eggs since the Devil made him do it. Hardee har har.


I loved the eggs. I followed Rachael’s recipe exactly, even down to the hard-to-find-around-here anchovy paste. I loved them, and I was so impressed with myself.  They were very fancy for eggs, but they were beautiful and different.  I like that in an egg.

I was not so happy with the crab bread pudding. 

I make a French toast casserole very similar to this recipe-well, except for the crab part. That recipe has a lot better filling to bread ratio.  This recipe had way too much breading for the crab.  To make the match better, I would have had to buy at least two more containers of crab. At $14 a pop, that would be one expensive casserole.  Still, I like the thought, and as long as I can remember how to tweak it using a lot less bread, I’ll be making it again.


At book club, my dishes were well received.  They both could have been better for the group.  The eggs were well received, and the casserole was not touched enough for what it cost to make it.  Live and learn.

The star of the night was my friend who can out cook anybody or their mother.  She made the Krystal/White Castle burgers from Pinterest.

They were delicious-and I do mean outstanding.  I made them a few nights after using her recipe of onion soup, onions, smooth peanut butter, cheese whiz, and milk.  I do believe I embarrassed myself with my behavior about these burgers.

Problem is that I was too busy smashing them in my face to care.

They were way oniony.  I used a whole large onion on the top and piled them on to serve them.  We paid the price the next day.  Whew.  Onion playback-yuck.

Still, I would do it all over again. 

These burgers were also, though, so moist and full of flavor, cheap, and dang easy to make.  Gotta love that in anything. 

I liked all three recipes, and just like the book, they all three gave us something to think and talk about.


Rachael Ray’s Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

This looked good in Rachael’s magazine, so I tried it. It was okay, but it lacked a touch of sweet. I adjusted it, and this is my variation:

4 T Dulce de leche-found in the Spanish foods aisle of the grocery
1 1/4 c milk-cream would be good too, but I didn’t think about it in time
2 T cocoa powder
2 T sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
A block or two from a Hershey’s bar

Warm your ingredients except the Hershey’s in a small saucepot. Wisk. Raise the temperature to a low boil and keep your eye on it. Wisk some more. Keep wisking until the cocoa powder has smoothed out.

Pour into a large mug. Drop in your chocolate squares. Allow to cool or you will hurt yourself.

Take my word for it.

I can see sharing this with friends around a campfire. It is different. I like it.

Cashew Chicken and the Kitchen Time Warp

I do believe there is some sort of time warp in my kitchen.  Every time I set out to make a recipe, and that recipe has a time suggestion on it for how long it will take to make a dish, it always takes me much, much longer than it says it should. 

Thirty minute meals? My foot.

And, yes, I know Rachael Ray has help on her set and all of her ingredients are prepared ahead of time.  But I am telling you, if I had the same setup with the same help and the same pre-prepared ingredients, it would still take me forever to make whatever she does in thirty minutes. 

Seriously.  Time warp. 

I got this recipe from a magazine which declared that it should-should being the key word here-take thirty minutes of work time and one hour total. 

I never should have even started.

It took for stinking ever the first time I made this, but it was delish and different.  It was worth it even is the recipe list is a mile long. 

Tonight I made it for the second time.  I was a little faster, but I wasn’t terribly hungry so I was fine with that.  On a hungry girl night? No way.  Someone would get hurt if I had to wait so long. 

Plan ahead, my friends. 

Cashew Chicken

2 good size chicken breasts, thinly sliced
3 T dry sherry, although I was out, so I used red wine.
2 tsp. ginger-I used dried.  I am not a fan of ginger. Nothing personal, Ginger.
2 cloves of garlic, peeled then smashed with the blade of your knife. 
4 ½ tsp. cornstarch
¾ c.  chicken stock
2 T soy sauce
3 T Hoisin sauce
1 T white wine vinegar
2 tsp.  brown sugar
Vegetable oil
½ c. cashews-I used two handfuls which is probably more that this calls for.  I want a crunch in every bite.
Red pepper flakes for garnish
Cooked rice

In a bowl, combine the sherry, ginger, garlic, and 2 t. of the cornstarch.  Add the chicken and toss.  Set aside for thirty minutes to marinade.

In another bowl, combine the stock, soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and the rest of the cornstarch.  Wisk well and set aside. 
 Using two tablespoons of the vegetable oil, sauté the chicken in small batches until the chicken is slightly brown, about five minutes.  Remove each finished batch to a small platter then return it all to the pan when all the chicken is done.

Stir in the soy sauce mixture and allow to simmer for about four minutes.  It should thicken right up to the consistency of thin gravy.  When it is thick, add your cashews. 

To serve, plate your rice, add the cashew chicken on top in a pretty formation, and top with the red pepper flakes to taste. 

Eat away.

Cashew Chicken

Recipe-R. Ray’s Pasta Ribbons with Peas, Prosciutto, Cream, and Spring Pesto
June 8, 2011, 6:45 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , ,

I love R. Ray’s magazine. The overall makes something drab absolutely fab. Recently, I decided to try her recipe for pasta with all the good stuff I love in it-peas, ham, cream. Mmmmm.

Her recipe calls for a thin, curly edged pasta called “riccia.” I looked for it to no avail, so I subbed in bowie or fafalle.

I also amended her original recipe by leaving out the homemade pesto. I like pasta with cream sauces to be pure and simple. Pesto seems so fussy.

When it was done, I loved it since it was very, very close to the same thing found in expensive, authentic Italian restaurants.

Here is my version:

One box of bowtie or farfalle pasta from Wal-Mart. Boil water, add salt, follow package directions.

Melt 2 T of butter in a large skillet. Chop one large onion, and add to butter. Soften the onion in the butter for about five minutes. Add one package of prosciutto that has been cut into one-inch cubes or bites. With that, add one small bag of frozen sweet peas. Stir. Add 1/4 c of white wine and 1/4 c of chicken broth. Cook for three minutes. Add 1 c of heavy cream and a dash or two of Parmesan. Reduce heat to low and let thicken for about four minutes. If you have any leftover grilled chicken, throw that in to warm.

Mix the pasta and the sauce. Plate it and put it in front of someone you love.

My Fave

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