Comfort food on a chilly evening

Herb Coated Chicken

This week, I promised my boyfriend that I would make a fussy but delicious baked chicken breast meal with lemons, tomatoes and kalamata olives.  It is the kind of dish that makes me spend a long time in the kitchen, cutting and chopping.  It is really the kind of meal that is best suited to a weekend night, not an after work night.  I really wanted to make such a dish but many factors conspired against my being able to fulfill the promise of fussy, fancy chicken so if you got to my blog by typing in a search for chicken with lemons, tomatoes and kalamata olives, I must apologize.  That will have to wait for another day.


Bone-in chicken breasts were supposed to be on sale this week.  That fact is what prompted my frugal Virgo personality to steadfastly plan and plot to make such a precise dish.  I arrived at the store on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  I guess all of the people who frequent my favorite store after Thanksgiving all decided they needed chicken since they must have been sick of Turkey by Sunday.  Who knew that chicken would be so much more popular than fish or red meat?  I’m sure there were extenuating circumstances that would explain such a weird-ass phenomenon, but when I asked the butcher where all of the chicken was, I got the kind of blank stare that makes you wonder if the person you are talking to is going to begin to drool a bit before they keep on staring at you in a catatonic silence.  For some reason, there were whole chickens, but the butcher made no apparent leap in reasoning to offer to cut me some breasts from a couple of birds.  I could tell that if I suggested such a thing, I would be in the store for a very long time so I risked asking him to cut one bird into serving pieces.  He was accommodating.  I got a whole bird.  I could make the planned recipe from a whole bird instead of breasts, so I continued on with my plan.


Monday went by and I was too tired to cook.  Tuesday…very tired and unmotivated but I finally realized that I had to do something or else I would lose the bird.  It would be such a waste to not cook it and have it go bad. 


I don’t really know why our generation of home cooks insists on making fussy food.  Whenever I hear my friends talk about making food for dinner, it is always something that takes effort.  Our mothers didn’t cook like that.  They had to support families.  They were just as busy as we are, but maybe they were smarter about it?  My mom made food that was easy but tasted good.  She made food that didn’t cause a huge mess and was simple to clean up after.  Many of my friends and I insist on being food network stars or celebrity chefs in our own minds.  If it isn’t fancy or complicated we can’t be bothered to do it.


Tonight, I just couldn’t do that.  You know… make something you would be proud to serve to visiting dignitaries sort of meal.  I fell back on an old standard or two and I cooked like my dear old mom.  I made my rendition of something she would cook for us often.  Dry herb crusted roast chicken pieces.  I served them with crusty cubes of roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes and a healthy side of steamed Brussels sprouts. Easy.  I am going to give you an un-recipe for the chicken.  I can’t give you precise measurements for the ingredients.  Sorry.  This is one of those few things I can cook with my eyes closed without a recipe so there is no recipe.  I think you should be able to follow the un-recipe and be able to make my mom’s delicious chicken for your family.


Herb crusted roast chicken


 A 4-5 lb chicken cut into 8 serving pieces

One lemon


Soy sauce


Onion powder


Garlic powder




Dried oregano


Dried thyme


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the chicken in a roasting pan.  Squeeze lemon juice over all of the chicken pieces.  Drizzle soy sauce over all of the chicken pieces.  You don’t want too much soy sauce, just enough to cover the chicken without leaving a puddle on the bottom of the pan.  The soy sauce is your source of salt for this dish so try to balance this ingredient.  You want the chicken to be wet with lemon and soy sauce so that the herbs will adhere to the chicken.  Sprinkle a generous amount of onion powder then garlic powder over the chicken so there is a nice base coating on each piece.  Season with Pepper.  Lightly sprinkle each piece with oregano.  Sprinkle a very, very generous amount of thyme on each piece of chicken; it should look like the chicken is pretty well coated with herbs when you are done.  Roast the chicken for 50-60 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees when you test the chicken breasts.  Serve with your favorite veggies.




Discussion: Food is fuel


Early in the summer as I was thinking about my contribution to the obesity epidemic, global warming and the political implications of how we as a country have to import so much oil, I realized that something a former boss of mine used to chant:  “Food is fuel” is absolutely true in so many ways.  When we eat too much food and don’t get enough movement in our daily lives, we store it away for later use.  If we have a storage unit going and we want to walk to the store, we have the energy to do it right there.  We could mine the fat in our bodies to transport ourselves places!  Early in the summer when my thoughts ran this way, I was trying to make an effort to use my fat stores instead of gas.  I got a ride into work a few times and made the hour walk home.  I walked forty-five minutes each way to the bank one day and even walked a half hour each way to the post office to drop off a letter.  Then my old habits kicked in.  I started taking the car everywhere again.  Why?  Well, walking is damn hard.  It is also time consuming.  In order to make these trips by foot, I needed to make sure I had the time to do it.  I also had to plan out how to carry things if needed.  It took effort and I got lazy.

Why do I bring this up as a discussion point?  In case you didn’t see it, a new article broke a few days ago in the news that verified my own train of thought.  Here is an excerpt:

“America’s obesity epidemic and global warming might not seem to have much in common. But public health experts suggest people can attack them both by cutting calories and carbon dioxide at the same time. How? They advise that people get out of their cars and walk or bike half an hour a day instead of driving. And also they suggest eating less red meat. That’s how Americans can simultaneously save the planet and their health, say doctors and climate scientists.The payoffs are huge, although unlikely to happen. One numbers-crunching scientist calculates that if all Americans between 10 and 74 walked just half an hour a day instead of driving, they would cut the annual U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, by 64 million tons.About 6.5 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved. And Americans would also shed more than 3 billion pounds overall, according to these calculations.”  Read the full article here. 

Here are some things to think about and discuss.  Feel free to bring in your own thoughts if I didn’t bring them up.

1.       The U.S. consumes about 20 billion barrels of oil per day.  The article seemed to suggest we would save 6.5 billion gallons of gasoline annually.  Would this make much of a dent in how much oil we need to import?  In how much we contribute to global warming?

2.       If you were to really look at your lifestyle, would you be able to find the time necessary to run errands by bike or by foot.

3.       Do you think your quality of life would improve by making this small change in your life?

4.       The article also mentions cutting down on red meat.  Would this be something you are willing to do and do you think a healthier diet would give you better endurance to travel by foot or bike?

5.       What advantages are there to walking or biking for errands as exercise over going to a gym? 

Let me begin the discussion:

1.       I think that every little bit of oil we save is beneficial to us.  Not only will we be keeping the air clean and the planet from warming, but we spend that much less money helping the economies of countries that are not necessarily our best friends.

2.       If I were to look hard at my lifestyle,  I waste a lot of time on the computer and in front of the TV.  I need to work on shifting my ideas of what is a good use of my leisure time.  I was more successful at walking to my errands on the weekend when I didn’t have to be anywhere by a certain time.

3.       I think my quality of life would improve if I could walk to my errands.  When I did so a few times, I felt relaxed.  I was able to think about things uninterrupted.  I was able to observe things I didn’t notice in my car.  I felt like I really got exercise.  You can’t really get the kind of exercise on a machine that you get when you have to balance yourself over uneven terrain.

4.       I don’t eat beef.  I won’t bore you or horrify you with the reasons why.  I do eat pork or lamb occasionally.  I am trying to cut down to a more plant based diet.  I believe the complex carbs one gets when they eat a more plant based diet is beneficial to our energy levels and would help with endurance when walking or bike riding.

5.       Like I mentioned before.  When you are outside, you are connected to what you are doing.  You work many muscles and you increase your ability to balance.  You get fresh air and your mind gets a work out.  We are so attached to our virtual worlds.  Getting outside is as important to the body as nutrients are. 

I look forward to reading your thoughts!


How to use the autumn tomato


For a few years, I had the pleasure of accompanying my best friend and her husband to a Canadian lodge each fall for their anniversary.  It was the perfect vacation.  A kind of a summer camp for grown ups.  You get to sleep in a cabin.  You can participate in different activities such as kayaking or tennis or bike riding.  You can be incredibly lazy and read and nap all day long if that’s what you are into.  This place feeds you well several times per day.  The reason I bring this up is that breakfast could be a choice of light fare or you could choose to put together a giant stick to your ribs feast.  Since Canada is part of the United Kingdom, the breakfast choices included some English seeming choices.  One of which is the choice to have a grilled tomato with breakfast.  Once I discovered this option, I had to have it most mornings that I stayed there.  It was quite delectable with eggs, indeed.


After I stopped going on vacation with my friends to Canada, I forgot about grilled tomatoes as a breakfast side dish.  One weekend at the “In laws”, my boyfriend’s step mom made broiled tomatoes as a side dish for dinner.  They were so good that I had to have seconds.  They were broiled tomatoes with herbs and Parmesan sprinkled on top.  Oh, they were so very yummy.  Roasting the tomatoes for 15 minutes and then broiling the cheese on top gives the tomatoes a wonderful sweet flavor.  They are divine!


I use tomatoes a lot when they are in season and it is rare for me to buy them and then not finish them up for whatever their intended purpose was.  I am a Virgo and adhering to a shopping list and the ensuing plan for the groceries during the week is a must or else I start going a little crazy.  You don’t really want to see me if I start getting a little crazy.  This week I somehow managed to buy too many tomatoes.  When I went in the kitchen to figure out what to eat for breakfast, I realized that if I didn’t do something, I would lose them.  They would eventually spoil.  On the rare occasion that I have tomatoes just milling about the kitchen, I have improvised my own version of broiled tomatoes.  They are amazing as a side dish to eggs and toast.  Just add coffee and a cold glass of OJ and it is fine dining.


I know it is late in the season to be posting a recipe about roasting tomatoes but we are still lucky enough to have the last of the fall tomatoes.  I hit the Farmer’s market after breakfast and decided to replace the tomatoes I used up this morning with a fresh batch.  The heirloom tomatoes are definitely on their way out after a week of chilly, foggy weather.  If you can still get some tomatoes locally or you are someone who doesn’t care how far your tomatoes travel to get to you, roasting them in this fashion should yield a tasty, flavorful side dish even though the tomatoes are starting to be a pale facsimile of their glorious summer selves.  If you have any of these roasted tomatoes leftover, you should use them for a tasty vegetarian sandwich.  I don’t think you’ll end up with any leftovers.

Roasted and broiled tomatoes

3 or 4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced horizontally into 2-3 thick slices.


2 large garlic cloves, minced


Dried basil to taste or fresh basil, minced, to taste


Dried oregano to taste or fresh oregano, minced to taste




½ to 1 cup of shredded hard cheese such as Parmesan or Romano


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Use a broiler safe pan that is large enough to accommodate the amount of tomato slices you will have.  I use a well-seasoned iron griddle.  If the pan you are using is something that is not seasoned and sticking could be an issue, oil the pan.  Place the tomato slices on your pan.  Sprinkle them with garlic, basil, oregano and pepper.  Top each herbed tomato slice with a generous mound of cheese.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and broil until cheese melts and browns slightly.  Serve immediately.

Become a leaf eater


Over the years, I have always relied on what nutritionists have touted as the wonder veggies.  If I found a way to get some broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage into me, I felt virtuous.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not about to say anything bad about these veggies.  They are high in nutrition.  As a matter of fact, I feel that any food that grows on a plant has to be good for me.  A few years back, I started eating swiss chard and kale.  They compliment each other well.  They are wonderful in pasta or as a side dish.  At this time of the year, they are readily available and at their peak of flavor.  One day, I decided to find out how nutritious they are.  Holy cow!!  You eat these two veggies and you’ll be set for the day on vitamins A and K.  Together, they will just about give you all of the vitamin C you need.  You’ll get omega three fatty acids and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals.  Check out these links to see some charts on what you get by eating kale and chard.  Amazing.


After learning how good for me these leafy greens are, I started to try to add them to my diet as much as I could.  One dish we really love is a pasta dish with sausage, roasted red peppers and the greens.  You make a lovely wine enhanced tomato and sausage sauce and then you melt the greens into it, cooking them until they are just sweet and tender.  Yum!


Here is a note about the ingredients for this dish:  Since we typically crave this dish in the winter, I usually purchase canned roasted red peppers.  I get these at Trader Joes who imports them from Spain.  I have never been to Spain so I think it is unfair that my red peppers get to come to the U.S. from Spain.  Since I can still find red peppers at the Farmers Market (they may be the last, it is starting to get cold now).  I roasted them myself this time.  If you have a rotten, stupid electric stove and oven like I do, broil the red peppers on a heavy-duty pan.  Broil them on all sides until the skin is blistered and charred.  Place the peppers in a covered dish to steam for 10 minutes or so.  Let them cool enough to handle and then peel and seed them.  You can use any kind of sausage for this recipe that would work with a tomato based sauce but we prefer chicken basil sausage.  Italian sausage is good too, but the chicken is mild tasting and the basil helps give the sauce a little bit of a kick.  Make sure the kale and chard is extremely clean.  Like spinach, it can be sandy.  The sand tends to stick in the bumpy textured leaves.  I usually chop the leaves and then use the bowl and colander of a salad spinner to wash the leaves.  I fill the bowl full of water and then swish the leaves around and then drain.  I repeat this until I see no sand in the bottom of the salad spinner.  It is usually a triple wash process.  This dish can be made with any tube pasta but penne is especially good.

Penne with Sausage, Roasted Peppers and Greens

3 chicken and basil sausages


5 cloves garlic, chopped


1 large onion, chopped


1 lb penne


15 oz can of tomato sauce


½ cup (or more) dry red wine


7.25 oz jar roasted red peppers drained and torn into strips or 3 medium homemade roasted red peppers and any juice that accumulates after you peel them, torn into strips


1 bunch each of kale and chard, chopped and washed very well


¼ cup Parmesan plus more for serving


Boil the water for the pasta.  While the water heats, brown the sausage with garlic and onion over medium heat in a large deep skillet for about 10 minutes.  Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook per directions on the bag (probably 8 minutes) until al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, add tomato sauce, wine and peppers to the sausage mixture.  Bring to a boil and then add the cheese and greens.  You may have to add the greens in handfuls, stirring and adding more to the pan as they wilt and make room. If the mixture starts to look dry add a splash of wine.  Cook until the greens are wilted and tender, lowering the heat to medium if necessary. Drain pasta and add sauce to the pasta mixing everything to combine well.  Serve with extra Parmesan sprinkled on top.


These pancakes are like eating an oatmeal cookie for breakfast… seriously!


Ah.  There is nothing like a lazy Saturday morning for sleeping in late and then leisurely puttering around the kitchen to make something yummy.  I know I am beginning to become in danger of having to rename this blog: “Mimi’s delicious pancake blog”, but as I have said before, breakfast is one of our favorite meals around here and we love our carbs!  Besides.  After eating the uber healthy Uncle Sam cereal with its rolled wheat flakes, whole flax seeds and amazing 10 gm of fiber per serving every morning in a rush before work, you want something good on the weekend!  And after a daily infusion of 10 gm of fiber each day, we deserve something better.  (Watch the fiber comments on my blog R.  I’m watching you! Hee, hee, hee!)


I want to give you a recipe that originally came out of the February 2002 issue of Bon Appetit.  I found this recipe through Epicurious awhile back and made a bunch of healthy changes to it.  According to my notes, I originally used this recipe exclusively with dried blueberries instead of the raisins called for in the original recipe.  I was nearly out of dried blueberries today so I used a few tablespoons of dried blueberries and made up the rest of the cup of dried fruit with currants and cranberries.  These were pure heaven this morning!  With a cup o’ Joe, and a glass of OJ, these cakes really hit the spot!  The bananas make them really moist and the oats give them a chewy, hearty texture reminiscent of oatmeal cookies.  Yum!


One suggestion I want to make that I have learned along the way in my pancake-making journey.  Once the batter is mixed up, let it sit for around ten minutes before you make the pancakes.  Many pancake batters will rise a bit due to the action of the baking powder and baking soda and you will get fluffier pancakes.  In the case of these pancakes, letting the batter sit for a few minutes will help the raw oatmeal and dried fruit soften a bit so that you will get a better texture to these pancakes than if you were to immediately ladle out the batter for cooking.

Banana, dried fruit and oatmeal pancakes

Adapted from the February 2002 issue of Bon Appetit


1 cup old fashioned oats


1 cup whole wheat pastry flour


1 tbsp brown sugar


1 ½ tsp baking powder


½ tsp baking soda


¼ tsp cinnamon


2 large eggs


¾ cup plain yogurt


¾ cup milk


½ tsp vanilla extract


2 ripe bananas, mashed


1 cup dried fruit (blueberries, currants, raisons and cranberries are all good.  Use one kind or a combination)


¼ cup olive oil


butter for frying


In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking power, baking soda and cinnamon.  In a larger bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the yogurt, milk and vanilla.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Fold in the mashed bananas, dried fruit and oil.  Mix until well combined but don’t over mix.  Let the batter sit for about ten minutes.


Meanwhile, heat an electric pancake griddle to 325 degrees or heat a skillet over medium heat.  Melt a small amount of butter over the surface of your griddle.  Ladle batter onto griddle and cook the pancakes until the edges form bubbles and look dry.  This should take three or four minutes. Turn the pancakes and cook for another one or two minutes.


A new feature on Delectable Tidbits


My blog has been up and running for a couple of months now.  Through the magic of the blog stats that WordPress provides to us happy Bloggers, I can see that there are now a few people accidentally bumping into my blog on a daily basis.  The information is pretty vague, but from this data, I can also surmise that some of you possibly like what you see here and you are returning periodically, cup of coffee in your hand, to see what’s new.  You seem to be a shy group of people.  You stop by, take a look and then move on without saying hello.  I would like to change all of that.  From now on, when I have the time to put up a new post, I will try to follow the post with a discussion topic.  Please introduce yourself by joining in.  I hope this will be fun for all of us.  Be as outlandish as you want with your replies.  Keep it PG-13 if possible and try to be nice to your fellow man or woman.  I am the equivalent of god on this site and I reserve the right to delete any comments that get vicious in any way shape or form.

Here is the premiere topic of discussion:


If you were a pancake, what kind would you be?  What famous person, living or dead would like to eat you?  Why?


Thanks in advance for playing.  I look forward to the discussion.