Sunday, August 31, 2008

Balsamic Chicken and Orange Salad

I saw this recipe for Balsamic Chicken and Peach Salad in the chicken recipe booklet that came with the Good Food magazine, and I thought I would give it a whirl.

A few days ago, Mick came home with a big bag of homegrown peaches that one of his co-workers had given him. They were absolutely delicious, and I thought this recipe would be a perfect way to use a couple of them. Wrong! When I checked the bag there was one tiny little peach left in there.

As there are only two of us in this house there are no prizes for guessing who’d scoffed them all, and it wasn’t the cats. Smart as they are, I don’t think they’ve mastered the art of fridge cracking yet, although Alvin can open cupboards and drawers. And even if they had managed to break into the fridge, I don’t think peaches would have been high on their list of priorities.

The peach situation called for a little improvisation. We had plenty of oranges so this recipe became Balsamic Chicken and Orange Salad, and very tasty it was too. Also the recipe said to cook the chicken under the broiler, but we grilled it on the BBQ.

Balsamic Chicken and Orange Salad


2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small orange for juice and zest
A handful of fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 small oranges, peeled and cut into segments
2 cups spinach

  • Pre-heat BBQ to low.
  • Put one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar in each of two small bowls. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to one bowl and two to the other. The first bowl is the marinade and the second bowl is the salad dressing.
  • Grate about a teaspoonful of orange zest into each bowl. Cut orange in half and add the juice from each half to each of the bowls. Add a dash of black pepper to both bowls.
  • Chop about a quarter of the basil leaves and add to the salad dressing only. Cover and store in refrigerator until required.
  • Brush a little vegetable oil on a sheet of heavy duty foil.
  • Dip chicken in marinade until thoroughly coated, and place on foil. Grill for approximately 15 minutes each side until golden brown.
  • Spread spinach leaves over a serving platter, top with orange segments and remaining basil leaves. Slice chicken and scatter it over the top. Drizzle the salad with the reserved dressing and serve.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cheesy Dribblers

I want to say a great big thank you to Beth at, for sending me a copy of the BBC’s Good Food magazine, what a fantastic publication this is. I was positively drooling over it last night, and will definitely be making some of those goodies. But not tonight, as I’m too busy reading. There was another little booklet with the mag containing 40 yumptious chicken recipes, and as we eat a lot of chicken at this house it’s given me plenty of ideas. And as a special little bonus, there was also some Cadbury’s drinking chocolate and Bird’s custard powder lurking in the envelope. Yum!

Okay, tonight’s recipe is not rocket science, it’s only burgers, but they were pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself. I only made 3 burgers as we have one each for dinner and Mick takes one for his lunch, but you could make 4. The addition of the tomato while the burgers grill makes them nice and moist.

Cheesy Dribblers


1 lb. ground beef
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. I’m guessing a bit here because I just splash it in until it looks like there’s enough.
2 -3 teaspoons McCormick grill mates, spicy Montreal steak flavor, divided
3 thick slices beefsteak tomato
3 slices Swiss cheese
3 Kaiser rolls

  • Pre-heat BBQ grill to high
  • In a large mixing bowl combine beef, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the grill mates seasoning. Mould into 3 or 4 patties. Sprinkle more of the seasoning mix on each side of the burgers.
  • Grill burgers directly on the bars for 5 minutes. You will need to reduce cooking time if you have 4 patties.
  • Reduce heat to low, turn burgers over and add tomato slices. Grill until tomato cooks, and burgers are of desired doneness. Add cheese slices, toast buns on grill while cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

An Award!

I’ve been given another award, this time from Beth at: Thank you so much, Beth, I’m honored.

It’s an Arte y Pico award which originated at this site:

Here are the rules that accompany this esteemed award:
  1. Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material and also contribute to the blogging community.
  2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog.
  3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.
  4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.
  5. Show these rules.

Many thanks to everyone who reads this blog, I would like to give this award to all of you, but I can’t, so here are a few of the blogs I like to visit.

Leah, for her interesting posts, great recipes, and lovely presentation.

Dhanggit, for her sweet treats and beautiful photography.

Lori, for her creativeness in the kitchen, and her beautiful presentation.

These two are not cooking blogs, although they both feature recipes from time to time.

Denise, for the wide variety of topics she covers and her lovely photography.

Plantgirl, for sharing the ups and downs of square foot gardening.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brocolli & Apple Salad

This is just a quickie post today. The recipe is also a quickie, and another one of hubby’s favorite salads. I think the original recipe came from A Taste of Home, but as usual, I’ve tweaked it a bit.

Broccoli & Apple Salad


1 broccoli crown cut into florets
1 Fuji apple, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup red onion, chopped
½ cup plain yogurt
A handful of raisins
A handful of chopped walnuts

  • Put apple in a salad bowl and drizzle with lemon juice.
  • Add broccoli, onion and yogurt, and toss to coat.
  • Top with raisins and walnuts.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cordon Bleu Crunch

Another quirky thing about me that I forgot to mention, I don’t like handling raw meat. If I can toss it into a pan, or slop it onto some foil I’m okay, but if it requires, chopping, slicing, dicing or molesting in anyway, Mick has to do the manhandling.

This recipe is a case in point, I can manage to dip the chicken in the egg, and cornflake crumbs as I only have to grab hold of a little corner of it, but Mick has to do the actual slitting of the meat. If he wasn’t here to do it I guess I’d have to snap on latex gloves, a bit like the CSI folks on telly.

Cordon Bleu Crunch


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of cornflakes, crushed
1 egg, beaten
A drizzle of vegetable oil
2 slices deli ham
2 chunks of cheddar cheese, I’m guessing about ½ an ounce each.

  • Pre-heat BBQ grill to low. Or heat oven to 350°F.
  • Put cornflakes in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Put crumbs on a plate.
  • In a small, shallow bowl beat egg.
  • Brush a sheet of heavy-duty foil with a little vegetable oil. Or if baking in oven, cover a cookie sheet with foil and brush with oil.
  • Make a slit in the top of each chicken breast, but don’t cut right through. Make 2 horizontal slits in each side to form a sort of pouch.
  • Dip chicken in beaten egg, then in cornflake crumbs until coated. Place chicken on foil, or cookie sheet.
  • Wrap a slice of ham around each chunk of cheese, and press into the pouch in the top of each chicken breast. Top with some more cornflake crumbs to seal the gap.
  • Bake chicken on the BBQ grill, or in oven, for approximately 35-40 minutes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Tag

I’ve been tagged by Jan at and I have to come up with six quirky things about myself, so here goes.
  1. When I’m annoyed about something I have a tendency to mutter, and chunter to myself.
  2. Toilet rolls must go on the toilet roll holder with the loose end facing the wall, not into the room. If I stay in a hotel, I always switch the loo roll round the other way, even though I know the maid will switch it back again in the morning. I know, that is really anal, if you’ll pardon the pun.
  3. I loathe shopping, especially for clothes, and for shoes in particular.
  4. I don’t like talking on the phone, I would much rather talk to people in person, or send a letter, or e-mail.
  5. I am a terrible car passenger, even when I’m not driving, I’m driving. I can’t stare out of the window at the passing scenery, or God forbid fall asleep, I have to watch the road at all times.
  6. I always have a piece of silly putty on my desk, it’s about the size of a grape, and when I’m thinking something over I squeeze the putty between my fingers. When I lived in England I used to use blue-tac which you can’t get over here, in fact when I was moving over here, my work mates bought me a huge pack of blue-tac as one of my leaving gifts. :-)

As usual I won’t be tagging anyone else, but if you’d like to play along feel free to do so.

This recipe is a bit of a swizz (English slang word for cheat), as who needs a recipe for fruit salad? None of you guys who read this blog that’s for sure. But there are just so many lovely fruits around at the moment, and the picture looked so pretty that I thought I’d share it. This fruit salad is a combo of honeydew melon, oranges, strawberries, and some lovely organic grapes I found at the store.

It’s delicious just as it is, or you could top it with ice cream, or cream, or both if you wanted to be really decadent. I didn’t have either. I know, I know! What sort of a domestic goddess am I if I don’t have ice cream and cream? One who lives a long way from the store, that’s what. Anyway I did have some plain yogurt and strawberries, so I swished a cup of yogurt and some chopped strawberries in the blender, and it made a yummy topping.

Raquel at had an interesting post last week about The Big Read, you can also find it on my other blog at If you like to read I think you’ll enjoy this list.

Now Raquel, if you’re reading this avert your eyes, as this is a picture of some of our first homegrown watermelon.

This is called Sugar Baby Watermelon

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tomato Gloop 2

I know I’ve mentioned this before but we have had rather an over abundance of tomatoes this year. Now I hate to waste good food, but canning is not for me. None of this slaving over a hot stove when it’s 100°F + outside, no siree. If there’s an easier way, believe me I’ll find it. All I do is bung my tomatoes in the in the slow-cooker/crockpot with a few veggies and herbs, cook ‘em and then freeze ‘em. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. And I guarantee you won’t break into a sweat, unless your A/C’s conked out.

This tomato mix makes a great base for all sorts of pasta dishes, chicken casseroles, and beef stews, and it means that you can still get all those homegrown flavors even in winter.

Tomato Gloop 2

2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
6 beefsteak tomatoes, chopped into chunks.
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
A handful of fresh oregano chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
A generous dash of coarse ground black pepper
1/3 cup of water


Throw everything into a large slow-cooker/crockpot, and cook on a low heat. Then go do whatever you want for the next 3 - 4 hours while the slow cooker does its thing. Just pop back after about 2 hours to give it a stir. Allow to cool a little, put mixture into plastic Glad boxes (recipe makes enough for 4 3-1/2 cup sized boxes), or you could use freezer bags. Place boxes/bags in freezer until required.
NOTE: Paula noticed I made a mistake with my timings, thanks Paula. It should have read 3 -4 hours. Also, this recipe makes a chunky sauce, which we prefer, if you like it smoother cook it for longer.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pasta Salad with Salami and Provolone

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around much this week. You didn’t? Oh, all right then. It’s just been a bit of a hectic week one way and another. I’ve been working on an article for a kid’s history magazine about the Black Death of 1347 – 1351. It’s taken some wrangling, as how do you write about the Bubonic Plague without making it too gruesome for the kiddywinks? I’ve also had to do some more work on my book, no more rejections this week. (Yippee!)

Thursday I had to go and renew my driver’s license. What a nightmare that was, and I still didn’t get my license. (Spit!) I’ll post about that on my other blog though.

Then there have been things needed doing around the house, which are always at the bottom of my to-do list, as you’ll notice if you ever visit, housework is not my forte. My office ought to carry a health warning.

And on top of all this, it’s been hotter than a camel’s crotch in the Sahara around here, and set to get even hotter next week. Roll on October.

And, of course, there are all those dinners to be made. I tried one of Pam’s recipes this week, Portobello and Havarti Burgers with Caramelized Onions. I’m so glad I did because they were delicious. Mick said he liked them better than beef burgers. High praise indeed if they trounced my Cheesy Dribblers off the menu. No photos though, we were too busy tucking in. If you want to try them yourselves you’ll find them at:
Anyway, tonight I’m having a night off; we’re going to have a pizza that someone else has made, (hurray).

So, without further ado, on with the recipe.

Pasta Salad with Salami and Provolone


8 ounces 3 color rotini pasta
1 beefsteak tomato, cut into chunks
½ cup red onion, chopped
½ red or green pepper, deseeded and chopped
12 black olives, halved
2 ounces provolone cheese, cubed
¼ lb. Genoa salami, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
Black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
(Use Italian salad dressing instead of oil and vinegar, if you prefer)
2 tablespoons Parmesan, shredded (optional)

  • Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water and drain.
  • In a large salad bowl combine pasta with all other ingredients, drizzle with oil and vinegar and toss to coat.
  • Cover and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Top with parmesan before serving, if you like.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I've been given an award!

I’ve been given a Brillante Weblog award by Pam at:

Thank you so much, Pam, I appreciate it.

The rules for receiving the award are as follows:

  • Post the logo on your blog.

  • Add a link to the person who nominated you.

  • Nominate 5 other people for this award and add links to their blogs.

  • Leave a message for the people you've nominated
These are just a few of the cooking blogs I like to visit. They all make delicious food as well as sharing interesting, and amusing insights into their lives. And thank you all for the lovely comments you leave on my blog. Long may we continue to visit.

Come on down!