Friday, March 31, 2017

The Martian; The Round-up #FoodnFlix

 I just love our Food n Flix Group.  It so often gets me out of my movie rut and introduces me to films I would otherwise never watch.  This month, however, is different because I am hosting.  I chose a movie that I just loved when it came out at the show and I couldn't wait to watch it again.

The film?  The Martian starring Matt Damon.  You can see my Announcement Post here and while it is too late to join us this month you can always join in next month when we watch A Touch of Spice hosted by Cam of Cooking Adventures with Camilla.  

You can also join us anytime by posting any recipe that is inspired by any of the X-Men Movies. This invitation comes to you from Heather, our host with a most, over at Food n Flix.  You can read all about the X-Men event here.

Food 'n Flix Club Logo

But back to this month's recipe round-up.  I expected tons of potato recipes because, after all, the movie was all about those potatoes.  

Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla was the first to post with her Carne de Porco a Alentejana. Cam was very excited with my movie choice.  It seems that she and her family have read the novel and watched the film several times.  Cam also linked back to a cute little story about when she made Martian Potatoes.

Cam decided to look for inspiration other than potatoes and created this dish saying "And in the end, I was inspired by the red rocks and red sand of the Acidalia Planitia. That brought me to paprika. Lots and lots of paprika".

The next submission was by a new member of our group, Tina of Novel Meals.  Welcome to FnF Tina, we are so happy that you joined us and I LOVE that blog name!  Tina, like Cam, had previously read the novel and enjoyed it immensely.  I have decided to add this novel to my TBR even though I have already seen the movie.  

Tina, also found inspiration outside of the obvious and is sharing this wonderful recipe for Eggplant Parmesan with us today.  Tina noted that ketchup played an important role in the meals eaten by Watney and said "On those lines I wanted to make something with a tomato base but not a spaghetti dish."

Next up is Ali of Fix Me a Little Lunch.  Evidently, I am the only person in the world that has not read this book! Ali was worried because she is a pretty harsh critic of movies after she has read the book but was happy to report that, in this case, she loved the movie as well.

Ali was the first of our group to have potatoes as the main ingredient and shared this wonderful recipe for Freezer Egg, Potato and Bacon Burritos.  Ali said she realized Watney would probably never want to see a potato again in his life.... "Still, I wanted to do a shout out recipe to the humble spud". I would love to have a stash of these in my freezer.

I'm happy to report that Kimberly of Coffee and Casseroles is joining us once again, having taken a break from FoodnFlix for the last few months.

Kimberly cleverly noted that, while we were all concentrating on Mark Watney and the food he had and grew, back on Earth there was tons of food, even showing shots of food advertisements. "All to contrast with the bleakness on Mars".  Great observation by Kimberly paired with a very creative recipe for Granola Dunes combining several scenes in the movie that inspired this fun dish.

Courtney from Fictional Fare is married to a real life Rocket Scientist.  Courtney did not read the book but her husband did and talked about it for weeks so Courtney feels as if she has read it. They went together to the theater to see this movie. 

Courtney decided to make two recipes inspired by this movie.  The first Parmesan Potatoes...."I remembered a part in the movie where he runs out of ketchup and dips his potatoes in crushed Vicodin. Yes, as in the narcotic. While using actual Vicodin in this recipe would be both disgusting and illegal, I thought that powdered parmesan cheese looked a bit like crushed up Vicodin powder, so I went with that."  Courtney is also sharing a tomato soup recipe that she named ketchup soup as a nod to the ketchup that Watney used with his potatoes until he ran out.  

Our fearless leader and the brain-child behind this fun group, Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, is up next.  Heather is so very creative.  She never fails to astound me with her inspiration and ideas.

"At one point, we see Watney slicing potatoes and putting them into a toaster oven to cook. I used that as the inspiration behind this ridiculously simple potato preparation. But here's the thing—I don't have a toaster oven. So, along the same lines, I thought it would be fun to develop a way to cook potatoes in my toaster. Okay, develop is probably a strong word, but you get the gist."  See what I mean?  Heather is amazing and so are these Toaster Potatoes and Homemade Ketchup.

My friend, Evelyne of CulturEatz never fails to amaze me with her creativity and this month is no exception.

It was Evelyne's second time watching the film and she knew that no matter what she did not want to make potatoes. She thought long and hard and even researched real NASA food sites and then? "I finally hit the jackpot when I found this Galaxy Ice Cream Idea but changed my colors to imitate the planet Mars! And for good measure I of course threw in a chopped Mars bar!"  I am so very impressed by the creativity of this recipe.

Deb of Kahakai Kitchen is sharing a recipe for Muesli in Space or at Home.  Deb got her inspiration from a list of available foods that Waltney was categorizing so that he knew what he had and how long it would last him.

Deb provides us with an amazing recipe for homemade Muesli saying "I decided that the start to any long day whether in space or at home is a hearty breakfast so I decided to make muesli as my dish". I, for one, am very glad she did.  I have never had muesli and am anxious to try it.

Debra of Eliot's Eats paid homage to the humble potatoes that kept Watney alive with a potato soup. She used two different kinds of potatoes, including sweet potatoes to "mimic the red planet's color".

Isn't this Two Potato Soup with Sriracha Swirl lovely?  Debra explained the swirl saying
"Plus, there’s the scene where he finally gets into the disco beat to “Hot Stuff” (à la Donna Sommers). With the white pepper and Sriracha, this is some hot stuff, too."

I was really surprised and pleased when my friend Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures was able to join us this month.  Amy recently started working full time and also volunteered to make and frost 138 cupcakes and a huge amount of pressed cookies for Confirmation this month.

How amazing is Amy?  Well....take a look at these adorable Meatloaf Cupcakes with Potato Frosting. Perfect for April Fool's Day tomorrow and perfect for this movie as well.  Amy says: "Since potatoes play such a huge role, I knew I wanted to make a potato dish. Later, when Mark is working on rationing his supplies, he cuts into something that looks meatloaf-esque (it’s gray and blocky and unpleasant looking), so I knew I totally wanted to use my meatloaf cupcakes!"

Terri of Our Good Life also read this book prior to seeing the movie.  In fact, her entire book club went together to see it and all agreed that it was very true to the novel.  Terri labels this as one of her top movies ever.

Terri decided to share a recipe for Sweet Potato Fries saying " My inspiration was to find a way to use all the potato, including the skin. The skin has some of the best nutrients, so we want to be sure to use it. If I consider what he had left to use: grape juice, ketchup, olive oil, instant coffee and salt and pepper, I would be too limited, so I did take advantage of the ingredients I have around me to make this dish."

Shaheen of Allotment 2 Kitchen almost got missed this month.  For some reason her email to me went straight into my spam box.  I am so glad I found it before this post.  I would have hated missing out on this great recipe.

While, Shaheen was not crazy about the film she was inspired to make this wonderful Creamy Carrot and Sweet Potato Rice Pudding.  "I took my inspiration from the myriad and bursting shades of orange, rust, bronze, marigold, clay, sandstone found in the landscape of the planet, from the rockery to the grainy dry sand."

The always fun to read and witty writer, Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice joined the party with these wonderful Twice Cooked Potatoes with Spicy Ketchup.

Colleen nearly didn't join us this month, thinking she was going to hate this movie.  She was very surprised that she loved this movie and ended up highly recommending it to others.  Colleen wanted to showcase potatoes but decided to focus on the cooking method because "If I had to eat potatoes for several years straight, I sure as hell know that I wouldn't want to eat them the same way every single day".

Sarah of Chef Sarah Elizabeth, got in right under the wire with her recipe.  Sarah hadn't wanted to watch the movie until she had finished reading the book but took the leap as deadline approached. She thought the movie was great.

Sarah presents The Bitter Astronaut, made with Campari for the bitterness she would have felt having been left behind as Watney was and Vodka which is made from potatoes.  The cocktail is red to represent Mars and garnished with some salted potatoes, reminiscent of those vicodin potatoes enjoyed by Watney in lieu of alcohol.  Sarah says, "I settled on a cocktail because if I had been stranded on Mars, I would have majorly needed a cocktail."  I'm with you, Sarah, I would have needed a cocktail as well.

And me?  Well I chose to share a healthy version of Sweet and Sour chicken based on one of the packages that Watney was sorting through while cataloging his supplies.

I had been trying to follow the Fast Metabolism Diet and while this dish isn't completely FMD friendly it is pretty close.  More importantly it is amazingly delicious.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Italian Chili

A few weeks back I had my friend Tamie and her kids over for a casual dinner and games.  I made a simple dinner of Italian Chili served up with a side of Italian Nachos.

What is Italian Chili?  Glad you asked.  It is much like Mexican Chili but using Italian ingredients.  Italian Sausage instead of ground beef.  Italian seasonings instead of chili powder.  And a surprise ingredient.....pepperoni.

It cooked up fast and everyone loved it.  I could have made a double batch and still not had any leftovers.  

I adapted this recipe from one found in Cuisine at Home.  I used beef broth instead of chicken broth because that was what I had in the cupboard, and I removed the skins from Italian Sausage links to get the bulk sausage

What are Italian Nachos?  You will just have to wait and see.  I will be posting more about them during Sunday Supper when we celebrate Fresh Tomatoes.

Italian Chili
adapted from Cuisine at Home, February 2008 Issue

1 lb. Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed from links
1 lg. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb pepperoni sticks, cut into bite size pieces
1 T. tomato paste
1/2 c. dry red wine
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes
1 c. beef broth
1 (15 oz) can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
salt and red pepper flakes to taste
Sour cream and fresh basil to garnish

Saute sausage in large pot over medium high heat until brown.  Add the onions, pepperoni and garlic. Cook until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Add the wine and vinegar. Cook and stir, scraping up any bits stuck on the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is nearly evaporated.  Add the tomatoes and broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.  Stir in the beans, Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper.  Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Garnish each bowl with sour cream and basil leaves. Print Recipe

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Saying Hello to Halo~~Product Review

I was approached by Halo Top Creamery and offered a coupon for a complimentary pint of ice cream in return for posting an honest opinion on this blog and posting a photo and link to this review on Instagram.  I received no monetary compensation nor did I receive any further instructions or requirements regarding my post.  This review is 100% mine and 100% true.

Halo Top describes their ice cream as "low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar, we use only the best, all-natural ingredients to craft our ice cream so that it tastes just like regular ice cream."

I was skeptical, especially since this entire pint of Sea Salt Caramel ice cream only contains 320 calories.  Especially considering that a 1/2 cup serving of Hagen Daz Salted Caramel ice cream contains 240 calorie.  That is a huge difference.  Huge.....160 calories, huge.  That means you could eat 3 servings of this ice cream for the same calories as 1 serving of regular ice cream.

This is great unless the low calorie, high protein and low sugar ice cream tastes like pooder dooder. Pooder Dooder is a technical term adopted from my nephew when he was being potty trained.  He is 40 now and our entire family still says pooder dooder.

So I scooped myself a serving of ice cream and added no adornments of any kind.  No hot fudge, no whipped cream, no cherry.  Just plain old unadorned Salted Caramel flavored Halo Top Ice Cream.

It is rich, smooth and creamy.  Had I been served this ice cream in a blind taste test I would have never guessed in a million years that it was low fat and low sugar.  It was delicious and I will be indulging in other flavors, guilt free (or at least with less guilt) from now on.

I was slightly disappointed by the salted caramel flavor. It was good but, to me, it tasted more like butterscotch.  Now, I know, that some people believe that caramel and butterscotch are the same thing.  I know that sometimes the terms are used interchangeably.  

I, however, do not think they are the same thing.  I think they are two very distinctive flavors.  I like butterscotch, hence I enjoyed this bowl of ice cream.  However I was expecting and looking forward to caramel.  This is a slight little disappointment that perhaps nobody else would even mention.  I am looking forward to trying some of their other flavors. Next up?  Peanut Butter Cup......YUM!!!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Oh My Darling Muffins #MuffinMonday

Oh my Darling
Oh my Darling
Oh my Darling, Clementine.......

Yep, these tasty muffins contain the zest of one Clementine and the juice of two Clementines.  OH MY knew they were going to be good.

But just in case we needed a touch more goodness, I added a streusel topping.  Not just any streusel topping but one made with the addition of trail mix.

These could also be called "Clean out the Pantry" muffins.  Because that is exactly what I did.  Frank was having a CPL class and I wanted to serve muffins and fruit for the students in the morning.  I had a bowl of fruit salad left from Sunday that I had been picking at but still had plenty left for the students.  So that left the muffins.  I opened the refrigerator and spied half of a bag of clementines....perfect.  Then I looked over and saw half a jug of buttermilk and grabbed that out as well.  

I made up the batter and started scooping it into the cupcake papers.  I felt like they were kind of blah. I was considering emptying them back into the bowl and adding some dried fruit or maybe chocolate chips to the batter.  Mmmmmmm, orange and chocolate.  I really didn't want to deal with that mess, so then I considered just sticking a few chocolate chips into each filled cup.  

I grabbed a handful of trail mix as I pondered and finally decided to make a streusel topping.  Maybe some brown sugar, butter and cinnamon would be good.  How about nuts?  I grabbed another handful of trail mix and turned to the freezer to see what kind of nuts I could add when I had a smack your palm to your forehead moment.

My trail mix had nuts.  And dried fruit.  And chocolate.  Hallelujah, my muffins were saved!!  I threw some of the trail mix in the food processor with some flour, sugar and butter and sprinkled it, very generously, over the muffins.

They baked up beautifully, with a tender crumb and a nice crown from the combination of baking powder and buttermilk.  The streusel was gorgeous and the muffins had to be eaten with one hand underneath so you didn't lose any of that crumbley goodness.

I served them up along with the fruit, coffee and juice.  As I was putzing around the kitchen, I heard one of the students exclaim to the others "Wow, this is some muffin!".  

Oh My Darling Muffins

2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk
zest of one clementine (mandarin)
juice of two clementine (mandarin)
1/4 c. canola oil


1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, cut into chunks
1/2 c. trail mix

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and set aside. 

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, zest, juice and oil.  Dump into the well of the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Divide batter between 12 muffin tins lined with paper cups.

Make the streusel by placing the flour, butter, sugar and trail mix in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to desired consistency.   Sprinkle the streusel topping generously over the batter.

Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 15-18 minutes or until a skewer inserted into a muffin removes cleanly.  Print Recipe

More Magnificent Muffins

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Citrus Marinated Chicken Thighs for #SundaySupper

Sunday Supper is being hosted by Lisa, of Jersey Girl Cooks , this week.  Please stop by her great blog and show her some appreciation for all her hard work.

Our theme this week is Citrus Recipes That Make You Smile.  I can't think of a citrus recipe that doesn't make me smile. Citrus Salad, Mandarin Orange Yakisoba Salad, Citrus Beef Skewers, Chicken Breasts in Lemon Sage Sauce, Orange Chicken, Lemon and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, Grilled Mahi Mahi with Citrus Marinade, Spicy Citrus Shrimp, Orange Coffee Cake, Pasta with Lemon and Basil. Smiling yet?  And this doesn't even list all of the wonderful desserts made with citrus fruits.  I had to stop or we would never have time for today's recipe which is sure to keep that smile on your face.

This recipe is healthy, using organic, pure and whole ingredients.  It is nearly FMD friendly for Phase 1 except for the addition of olive oil in the marinating liquid. It is quick and easy.  Even with the marinating time you will have dinner on the table in less than an hour.

Line the baking pan with aluminum foil to cut down on the amount of clean up afterwards.  There are much better things to do after dinner than an hour of dishes.  Like maybe having a Michigan Cherry Lemonade and watching a good movie.

These chicken thighs were moist and juicy with a bright citrusy flavor.  I served them up with steamed brown rice and lightly steamed asparagus that still had a bit of crunch to it.  It was an awesome dinner and one that I am sure your family will love as much as mine did.

You will find many more Citrus Recipes to Make You Smile following this recipe.  Make sure you stop by and visit the rest of the Sunday Supper Family.

Citrus Marinated Chicken Thighs
adapted from Bon Apetit

1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves and tender stems
2 garlic cloves, crushed
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 c. coco aminos
2 T. olive oil
1 T. kosher salt
pinch of red pepper
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Set aside some of the scallions for garnish.

Place the remaining scallions, cilantro, garlic, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, coco aminos, olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes in a heavy duty blender or food processor.  Pulse to a coarse puree. 

Wash the chicken and place into a plastic bag that seals.  Reserve 1/4 c. of the pureed mixture and pour the remainder over the chicken.  Seal the bag and turn to coat the chicken.  Chill for 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place onto a foil lined baking sheets.  Discard marinade left in bag.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 25-35 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thickest thigh shows 165*.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Arrange the thighs on a platter, drizzle with the reserved citrus marinade and sprinkle with the reserved scallions.  Print Recipe

Sunday Supper Citrus Recipes That Will Make You Smile

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Weekly Menu for the Last Week of March

I am sure that there is a huge party up in Heaven today.  It is Mom Klik's birthday and as I write this I can see her, with her head thrown back and her mouth open and I can hear her infectious laugh.  Mom Klik had the best laugh in the world and she used it often, especially at parties.  We will go down to the city today to visit her gravesite and wish her a Happy Birthday.

One of my favorite photos of both Moms, taken at Mom Klik's 90th Birthday party.
Tomorrow we are going with Tingting, Melody, Amy and Doug to see Disney on Ice.  I am not crazy about the venue where it is being held but I am sure we are going to have a great time.  I know that our Little Angel Face will be entranced.

The rest of the week is just typical.  Church meetings, choir, Little Miss, Aunt Irene, food pantry, etc. Nothing too exciting on our plate, as the expression goes, I will try to put something exciting on our dinner plates this week.

Chicken/Brown Rice Casserole (using leftovers from last week's crockpot Chicken)

Filet Mignon
Fried Potatoes
Garlicky Green Beans

Meatless Monday
Pupusas de Queso
Refried Beans

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Roasted Eggplant Salad

Dinner out after food pantry

Lions Head Meatballs
Steamed Rice
Stir Fry Veggies

Fish Friday
Shrimp Fried Rice

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Murder on the Ballarat Train; A Phrynie Fisher Mystery (Book Review)

Image result for murder on the ballarat trainThis is the 3rd book in a series by Kerry Greenwood starring Phrynie Fisher as an Australian rags to riches success story who finds herself working as a detective.  It takes place during the 1920's and it is a fun little series.  Perfect when you just want to relax and spend an enjoyable few hours cuddled up with a book.

You can't help but love Phrynie, who takes no guff from anyone and has a heart as big as an ocean.  Having come from a poor background, Phrynie is very empathetic and generous with those she deems worthy. Having been treated badly during her early years, Phrynie has no energy or compassion to waste on those who treat others shabbily and/or victimize others.  

She is high spirited and adventurous.  She knows exactly what she wants out of life and she is not going to allow anyone to stand in her way.

In this 3rd book, Phrynie and her companion, Dot, are traveling on the Ballarat train when they are suddenly overtaken by the smell of chloroform while in their sleeping car.  Phrynie is able to shoot out a window and clear her head enough to save the other passengers of the sleeping car discovering that one of the passengers, an elderly woman, is missing. 

Thus begins another fun adventure with Phrynie who is hired by the woman's daughter to find the killer.  I had taken a copy of a book that I had borrowed from my friend Kirsten, containing the first 3 stories of this series, with me to Dominica.  I had read the first two books and was planning on finishing the third while on vacation.  My friend, Linda, was out of reading material and since I had my Nook with me, I loaned her this series.  She LOVED it and has continued on to read the next 3 in the series as well.  She likens the books to "Nancy Drew for adults".

The book was returned to me last week and I finished up this story last night.  Linda is now traveling in Asia but when she gets home I am going to borrow the next three stories so stay tuned folks.