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Monthly Archives: June 2012

  • Orange marmalade pork chops and mushroom rissotto

    Anytime we get mushrooms at the market, I make sure to grab a couple to bring home.  Lately we've had two kinds: button and baby bella mushrooms.  To me button mushrooms are the first mushroom we are introduced to.  You'll usually find these in your pizza or in your salad.  Baby bella (short for Portabella) is a darker more flavorful mushroom which is usually cooked/grilled/baked in balsamic vinegar.  I'll have to do another post on grilling these with Parkesdale's Balsamic Vinegar dressing. :)

    Mushrooms are great in salads, spaghetti sauce or just cooked by themselves with Troyer butter.  For last night's dinner, I used the button mushrooms.  I finally got the courage to try and make risotto at home with Arborio Rice.  I've made "risotto" with orzo pasta a few times before and called it risotto.  But to make authentic Italian Risotto, one must use Arborio.   Arborio rice is easy to find, I just picked it up at our local Publix.  The thing about making risotto is that you need to stir it constantly until all the juices are absorbed and keep adding more juice until the rice is "al dente".  It'll continue to cook once you remove it from the stove.  While cooking it last night, I couldn't help but think of Chef Ramsay and his Hell's Kitchen show.  If there's one thing I learned from Hell's Kitchen, then it would be "risotto must flow like lava."

    Wanna make a quick sauce to glaze over your pork chops, chicken or fish?  Grab a jar of marmalade!  A while back I read a post from Closet Cooking about Pork chops in a balsamic fig sauce.  At the time, I didn't have fresh figs at home, but I did have our No Sugar Added Fig Jam.  Ever since that day, I think all of our pork chops have had some kind of "jam sauce"!  Last night, was no different.  I sprinkled some Everglades Seasoning on both sides of  the pork chops.  Added the pork chops to the chopped onions on the pan and cooked them until they were done.  Once I removed the pork chops from the pan, you can use wine/sherry/balsamic vinegar to deglaze your pan and add a heaping tablespoon of your favorite marmalade/jam.  Last night I used our Palmalito Orange Marmalade.  Cook until reduced by half and drizzle over your meat.  Gourmet in minutes!

    This was the first time I used the Orange marmalade and my husband mentioned it had a slight bitter taste.  I'm thinking it might be from the orange peel in the marmalade.  Everyone ate it, even the kids!

    Do you often modify recipes? Are you successful?

    Do you like mushrooms?


  • 2012 Dunedin Triathlon Recap

    It's now Monday, a day after completing the 9th Annual Dunedin Rotary Triathlon at Honeymoon Island State Park.  As I mentioned before, the last time I completed a triathlon was September 2005.

    According to google, we had about 1.5 hour drive to Dunedin.  We left our house around 4 am to make sure we would be there early to pick up the registration packet.  I also liked getting there early to avoid all the traffic getting into the park.  :)  Another benefit of getting there early is you get to see the course so you have an idea of how it will flow once the race begins.

    About 800 people competed in the Triathlon this past Sunday.  The event consisted of a 1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run.  The organization of this event was amazing.  Everyone knew what they were doing and the energy was contagious.  If you've ever been to Honeymoon Island Beach, then you know there are a lot of "rocks".  I was very impressed with the race organizers who were yelling at us to keep "swimming" on our way out of the water and to use our hands so we wouldn't cut our feet.  Also, there were no rocks between the beach exit and the transition zone!  Amazing job!

    Personally, this was my best triathlon time 1:36:33.  It was a longer bike run than my previous one, and I finished about 4 minutes faster.  I can't complain.  My transition times need work for sure.  The swimming portion will always be my weakness, but that's ok.  If I can survive that, I can certainly finish the other two.

    The post race party was incredible.  I couldn't believe they had people at the finish line handing you an ice cold bottle of water!  There was plenty of food to go around.  Muffins, cookies, bagels, bananas, apples, pizza and beer! Unbelievable.  But the best part was having my mom, brother and daughter there with me.  My biggest supporter, my husband, stayed home with our youngest daughter.  I can still hear my youngest daughter cheering for me as I walked into our home.  I may not have been fast enough to place and win a medal, but the amount of love and encouragement I received from my family was priceless. :)

  • Cilantro Salsa Verde twice in one week

    One of my favorite  meals of all time is Skirt Steak with Chimichurri sauce.  Although it may be difficult to pronounce, chimichurri is super easy to make.  Conventional chimichurri is made with Parsley, olive oil, salt, garlic, pepper and red pepper flakes.  There are all kinds of chimichurri variations.  Some add mint to the mix.  While changing channels the other day, I stumbled upon a chef on the cooking channel who was drizzling a cilantro salsa verde over grilled chicken.  Not wanting to miss anything, I quickly ran to a chair to watch him make it.  His ingredients reminded me of chimichurri,  and as far as I can tell the only difference was cilantro versus parsley.

    Two nights ago, we decided it was time to fire up the grill.  Luckily, I had brought home some cilantro!  If you've never had chimichurri before, I encourage you to try it.  There's just something about all the fresh ingredients drizzling over the grilled meat.  The bright colors and the citrusy bite can take your taste buds up to another level.  If you haven't noticed I might be in need of an avocado intervention pretty soon.  I just can't stop bringing them home!  Here's round 1 of the Cilantro Salsa Verde...

    Tonight's menu consisted of ground beef tacos and yellow rice.  Halfway through cooking, I decided to add a bean salad as a side dish.  Yes, it had avocados.  Did I mention I might be obsessed with avocados lately?  I used small red beans, but you can use any bean.  As a dressing, I used the Cilantro Salsa Verde from the previous night.  Here's Round 2...

    The bean salad was made up of tomatoes, avocados, purple onion and yellow pepper.  It was also used as "taco filling" for a meatless option.  Do you like sour cream?  Have you tried using plain greek yogurt instead?  My personal favorite is Fage.

    Cilantro Salsa Verde


    1 bunch of cilantro
    1/2 lime
    1 lemon
    1 garlic clove
    1 cup olive oil
    1/2 tablespoon salt
    1/4 tablespoon pepper


    1. Using a food processor, add the cilantro and garlic clove and pulse into finely chopped.
    2. Once the cilantro is finely chopped, add the olive oil to the food processor and pulse for a few pulses.
    3. Bring mix to a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients.  For best taste refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.  You may use it immediately.  If you refrigerate it, make sure to use it in a day or two.
    Bean Salad with Cilantro Salsa Verde
    1 can of beans (black, red or white)
    1/2 tomato, cubed
    1/4 cup red onion, diced
    1/2 yellow pepper, diced
    Cilantro Salsa Verde


    1. Rinse and drain the beans.

    2. In a large bowl, combine beans, tomato, red onion, and yellow pepper.  Sprinkle some salt  to taste, then drizzle some of the cilantro salsa verde.  Refrigerate or serve immediately.




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