from the vaults

May 29th, 2020

There was previously a recipe linked here that I loved and the website died. Sadness, I’d lost my recipe! And so many other yummy things, lost to the aether.

I did some digging around, because I was craving it and found something close. I actually combined a couple of recipes to get here. I won’t be silly enough to link them again, I’ll just post the recipe.

Sesame chicken bites

  • 2 pounds chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1 cup (*) panko
  • 1/2 cup (*) sesame seeds
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425F.

Mix mayonnaise with dry mustard and minced onion. Mix this with the chicken pieces.

In another bowl, mix panko and sesame seeds. Toss coated chicken pieces in the dry mix, a few at a time and put onto a foil lined pan. When all the chicken is coated, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake 15-20 minutes.

* I have never used just 1 1/2 cups of the dry mixture, I’ve always had to mix up more. Maybe I really pack it on the chicken bites. Also, I think it depends on how small you cut your chicken. My pieces are always pretty small, like popcorn chicken.

We like to serve this with au gratin potatoes, something cheesy so you can dip the chicken in the cheese sauce.


December 27th, 2019

When I was a kid, we went to my Gran’s every year for Christmas without fail. My neighbors had a leisurely Christmas, in their jammies, playing with their new toys. I was jealous of this. I liked hanging with my family, but longed to spend the day at home.

Sometime about 1992 or so, I don’t remember the exact year, when I was about 19 and responsible for getting myself to Gran’s, it snowed something fierce. So, I opted to stay home. I had a lovely time playing in the snow with my BFF who lived next door.

When it came time for dinner, I decided to get fancy. I had heard of “40 Garlic Chicken” but never had it. I didn’t have a recipe and this was pre-internet, so I decided to just wing it.

I took one lone chicken breast and covered it with 40 cloves worth of granulated garlic, a whole bottle. Then I baked it. This was the most horrible thing to ever pass my lips. I took one bite and threw it in the trash.

Here we are, however many years later and I decided to give it another shot. Now I have the endless resource of the intarwebs to turn to. I also now know about fresh garlic. So, I searched out something that sounded good. I ended up on Bon Appetit’s Chicken with lots of garlic. It doesn’t say 40 garlic in the title, but it called for 4 whole heads, so that fit the bill. I made this for Christmas dinner this year with mashed potatoes and green beans.


4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 2½ lb. total)
Kosher salt
4 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed
1 red chile (such as Fresno), quartered lengthwise, seeds removed if desired
3 bay leaves or 5 sprigs thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Country-style bread, toasted (for serving)

Preheat oven to 325°. Place chicken in an 13×9″ baking dish and season generously all over with salt. Add garlic, lemon, chile, bay leaves, and a few grinds of pepper. Pour in oil and toss everything to coat. Turn garlic heads cut side down so they are in contact with the baking dish (this will help them brown).

Roast chicken, rotating pan once, until meat is almost falling off the bone, 75–90 minutes. Let chicken cool in pan 10 minutes, then serve with bread.

I feel I’ve been redeemed. This was delicious! The sweet husband loved it. I loved it. An all around winner. I may make it again and not wait almost 30 years for my next try.

Sticky Toffee Goodness

March 31st, 2019

So, I’ve heard of Sticky Toffee Pudding, but I’d never had it. I’d only ever been to one restaurant that had it on the menu and we didn’t have time to stay for dessert. Le sad. I’ve been curious to try it.

This week, the shrink doubled my Wellbutrin. I have a lot more energy all of a sudden.

So, I made one for myself. And it was delicious! I’m going to copy the recipe here so I can keep it on hand.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
Yield: 6-9 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes


6 ounces dates, pitted and finely chopped (about 8-10 medjool dates)
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup (6.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


3/4 cup (5.75 ounces) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 stick (4 ounces, 8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Pinch of coarse, kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Additional heavy whipping cream for drizzling (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 6 to 8 ramekins (about 6 ounces each) with butter or cooking spray or lightly grease an 8X8- or 9X9-inch pan.
For the cake, in a medium bowl, stir together the dates, boiling water, baking soda and vanilla extract (see note for alternate method). Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
In a separate medium bowl, cream together the granulated sugar and butter with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until well-combined and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
Add the eggs and mix.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.
Fold in the date mixture (no need to drain) until combined; don’t overmix.
Fill the ramekins evenly with the batter, about 2/3 full, or spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake the ramekins for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back to the touch (if using a square baking pan, bake for 22-25 minutes). Don’t overbake or the cake may be dry.
Let the cakes cool completely in the pan(s) – although the cake can be served slightly warm also.
For the sauce, combine the sugar, butter, cream, and salt in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce is smooth and combined, 5-7 minutes.
If the cake was baked in ramekins, turn out onto individual plates (if baked in a pan, cut the cake into squares). Pour the warm sauce over the individual servings, and sprinkle with pecans, if using; drizzle with a teaspoon or so of heavy cream, also optional but terribly delicious.

a tiny light in the darkness

February 23rd, 2019

I don’t want to jinx anything, but I may be ascending from the depression. At least slightly. At least, I made a craft project and have cooked a couple of good meals. I am putting in some effort!

Let’s do this in chronological order, shall we?

Valentine’s Day marked mine and Sparks’ 13th dating anniversary. I know we have a wedding anniversary, and we celebrate that too, but we still celebrate the first anniversary. I decided that I wanted to make scallops for dinner. Fresh Market complied by having some gorgeous sea scallops. I seared those and made a beurre blanc. I sort of lazied out on the beurre blanc though and didn’t strain it. We both like shallots though, so I didn’t see it being a big deal. And it wasn’t. I also roasted some asparagus and made a quick couscous. At least this time I didn’t brown the butter while making the sauce. While I was making dinner, Sparks cleaned off the end of the table so that we could eat at the table “like fucking adults” (my words, not his). The beurre blanc was so good that I just ladled it over the whole plate. It’s good with seafood, it’s good with asparagus, and couscous always benefits from a sauce. Scrumptious! Followed it up with tiramisu from the bakery counter of Fresh Market. I love Fresh Market!

Then, while the table was still mostly cleaned off, I decided to finally start on the quilt I’d been wanting to work on for a while. My cousin was about to become a grandma! If she wasn’t already older than me, this would seal the deal. It’s been a while since I was excited about a craft project, but cousin’s daughter is a barrel racing cowgirl and was about to have a little cowgirl of her own. I wanted to do a cowgirl themed quilt. I found some fabric on Etsy that fit the bill. So, this past weekend, I threw together a Trip Around The World quilt. Here’s the photos over on instagram! I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I dropped it at the post office on Tuesday and it arrived right after baby girl did!

I moved the sewing machine and stuff so that we could eat at the table like adults again. Last night, I was feeling steaks. That always means another trip to Fresh Market, their butcher counter is lovely! I got a couple of chateaubriand cut filet mignons. Filet is my steak of choice, I won’t eat fat and get grossed out if any of it touches my tongue, so I just avoid it as much as possible by doing filet. I cook them simply, just sear both sides and slide them in the oven with a meat thermometer. It seems that if I cook them to 135, they carry over just enough to be a good medium. That would gross out my mom (she likes hers well done) but it’s perfect for Sparks and me. While the steaks were in the oven, I made balsamic mushrooms. I’ll copy the recipe below, I definitely don’t want to lose this one like I have some others on the intarwebs. And kismet! TFM had organic baby bellas for $1 a package! While the steaks were resting, I made a cognac cream sauce to go over them. It was good, but made way too much. I think next time I’ll just add enough cream to the pan to make sauce, not the whole carton. It also wouldn’t take as long to cook down that way. Add to all this a couple of bakers with butter and sour cream. The steaks were so good that Sparks threatened to weep. *laughs* No fancy dessert this time, but we had some Entemann’s chocolate doughnuts in the kitchen.

I woke up this morning excited to come update my blog. Maybe I’m not dead, after all.

Balsamic Mushrooms and Onions


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound white button mushrooms halved
1 onion sliced
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


– In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and onion; sprinkle with salt and stir to combine.
– Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until liquid is released from mushrooms, about 5 – 7 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms and onions are softened and browned, about 3 -5 minutes.
– Add balsamic vinegar and stir until mushrooms and onions are coated evenly and the vinegar is heated through.

dead from lack of interest

January 25th, 2019

I think the depression has a serious hold on me. It seems that no matter how much wellbutrin I take, it keeps it’s hold. Today though, I feel a bit perky. Probably because for the first time in months things at work are going my way.

Life on the homefront is quiet. I’m too quiet, mom says. I just don’t seem to have an interest in anything. No craft project has called to me since the wedding flowers, which I think I didn’t even bother posting. I made gorgeous paper flowers which I turned into a bouquet with some brooches. But since then, not much of anything. I’ve even given up knit night. But a big part of that is this newfound driving anxiety that plagues me. Plus, I don’t see so well after dark these days. My eyes are getting old.

Man, I’m just a bucket of sunshine.

But last night I was struck with dinner inspiration. I love when I get inspired to use up leftovers. Back over the weekend, I made a standing rib roast. It was delicious but pricey and we only ate about half of it. I thought about making a stew with it, but last night got an inspiration to make beef stroganoff. It’s one of the husband’s favorite things. Let me tell you, prime rib stroganoff is where it’s at! I turned that leftover meat which probably would have been left to rot into another meal, that’s awesome.

No recipe, I just sort of winged it. That’s my favorite way to cook anyway.

sweet chili burning

March 13th, 2017

Ok, the burning only occurs when one adds Sriracha, aka Hipster Ketchup. Otherwise it’s just sweet and garlicky and yum.

I found this recipe via pinterest and have been eyeballing it for a couple of weeks. I finally decided that it was time to make it and Kroger had just the amount of precleaned shrimp that I needed. Kismet! Sparks and I both went back for seconds! Then, a couple of days later, I repeated the recipe with chicken.

I made some changes, adding vegetation. Here’s my final recipe:

  • 1 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon butter (stovetop version only)
  • julienned sweet bell pepper
  • sliced green onion (4)
  • snow peas, trimmed
  • Asian Sweet Chili Marinade

  • 1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (like Mae Ploy)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Glaze:

  • Reserved marinade (in directions)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Garnish

  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • sriracha to taste
  • sesame seeds


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the Asian Sweet Chili Marinade Ingredients. Measure out 1/4 cup and add this to a large freezer bag along with shrimp (the remaining Marinade will become your Glaze). Marinate 30-60 minutes.
  2. STOVETOP DIRECTIONS: Stir-fry veggies until tender in a tablespoon of butter. Remove to a plate.
  3. Melt butter in a large wok over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook just until opaque, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp to a plate.
  4. Whisk 1/4 cup water and 2 teaspoons cornstarch to the reserved Marinade/Glaze. Add to wok and simmer until thickened. Add shrimp and veggies and toss to combine.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sriracha for more heat if desired. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro (optional).

beurre brown

February 14th, 2017

Someone recently left a comment here on one of my old entries, the stuffed bread one. If you search for Enza’s, I come up on the first page. Or maybe it was “Enza’s stuffed bread”. Whatever, I didn’t expect that.

Anyway, this prompted me to go back and read through all of my entries here. I guess that’s one nice thing about posting so sporadically, it doesn’t take long to go through all of the entries.

I realized that I just don’t cook like I used to. Is it the meds I’m on? I know I used to have a lot more energy than I do now. Most nights, I’m doing good to make a grilled cheese. Usually I don’t even put that much effort into food for myself.

I miss cooking. Add to this the fact that we’ve gotten disgusted by Friday night dinners out. We don’t like to wait and being told it’s 90 minutes for a table someplace that has mediocre food just annoys us. So, I’m going to try to make more of an effort to cook. At least on friday nights I can take my time making dinner and it won’t matter if we eat at 8pm. Though I’ll say that this past Friday’s dinner came together very quickly.

Friday afternoon, I had scallops on the brain. While picking up some scallops at the market, I googled a sauce to go with them. I used this recipe for a tarragon beurre blanc. Only I didn’t read the directions very well and added the butter too early. This meant that the butter browned and my sauce ended up rather dark colored. However, it was fracking delicious! One other substitution was that I used tarragon vinegar instead of white wine vinegar and fresh tarragon.

I paired the seared scallops with couscous and asparagus. The sauce went well drizzled over the couscous also.

I really don’t care for standard couscous. I don’t mind the pearl couscous, but I add a lot of butter to it as well. Only with regular couscous it doesn’t seem to matter how much extra stuff I add to it, it’s always dry. However, the husband likes it, so I make it sometimes. To my tongue though couscous is the most bland food around. I even used a flavored version from a box this time thinking it would be better. I might as well have used the plain stuff for all the difference that it made.

But hey, the scallops and sauce were excellent!

Motif #1

July 5th, 2016

A few years back, Sparks and I took a vacation in Rockport, MA. I don’t remember exactly why I chose Rockport. I think I wanted to hit the area because I’d never been anywhere in the Northeastern US. Rockport was nice though, we stayed in a lovely little B&B which was just a short walk from the beach. It was August, but the water was frigid. Mostly, we wanted to eat our weight in seafood.

The first night there, we arrived a bit late and were hungry. The innkeeper recommended a place down the street and we walked down. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but it sat right on the docks and outside was a little red building referred to as Motif #1. We were informed that it was the most painted/photographed scene in all of the Northeast. I can’t tell you much about the restaurant other than the fact that it had the best lobster roll ever (and the first one I ever had!) and this really tasty mixed drink named after the scene outside the window.

We returned from that trip with some serious food inspiration. This was the same trip where I discovered Spiced Tomato Jam and recreated it as soon as I got home. We also worked to recreate the drink that we liked so much while on our trip.

Sadly, I couldn’t find the recipe, though I did still remember the ingredients. Lucky for me, which visiting friends this weekend, it turned out that my friend had it written down in her recipe book! I’d better notate it here so that I don’t lose it again.


1.5 oz spiced rum
1.5 oz coconut rum
3 oz pineapple juice
.75 oz pomegranate juice

If you really want a kick, float a little 151 on the top. But even without that this is a sneaky drink. It’s a smooth fruity thing going down, but packs a wallop.

Fried Chicken: Demystified

June 30th, 2016

When my parents were first married, way back before they’d even thought about me, my mom tried to make fried chicken. She bought a whole chicken, because that was cheaper than buying on already broken down and money was of course an issue being newlyweds, and cut it up. She’d never done this before. Cut ahead to dinnertime and my dad ridiculed her chicken pieces for being naked (the breading fell off) and unrecognizable. She never attempted fried chicken again. Growing up, my chicken always came in a bucket. I occasionally got some made by my Granny, but I preferred the deep fried commercial stuff.

Recently, I had some fried chicken from my aunt who is the master of all home cooking. She’s taken to using boneless chicken breast strips for frying. I don’t know why I never thought that I could fry chicken that wasn’t a whole chicken that I had to cut up. But this week, I decided that it was time. I planned to make a chocolate cake later in the week and it calls for buttermilk. So does most of the fried chicken recipes I’ve seen. Kismet!

So, I put my chicken strips in a ziploc bag with enough buttermilk to cover them and left them in the fridge to hang out until the next night. Most recipes just call for soaking the chicken for a couple of hours, but if I do that after work then I’m cooking dinner at 9pm. One thing I didn’t do and should have, I should have salted the chicken before it went in the buttermilk. Or added some salt to the mixture. My chicken needed a bit of salt when all was said and done.

Fast forward to the next evening. I mixed up flour and seasonings. I just added some random spice blends (cajun, greek) and other spices that I thought would work (salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne) and stirred it up. Without wiping off the buttermilk, I flopped each chicken strip around in the flour, trying to pack it on. Then I set each one aside on a rack. Once all of the pieces had been breaded, I ran each one through the flour again, once again letting them sit on the rack for a few minutes. This is supposed to help the crust to adhere.

I brought some oil in a wok to 350ish degrees (F), someone in a book told me to toss in a bit of bread, the oil is hot enough when the bread fries. Then I gently placed each chicken strip in the hot oil. Now, the most important part – walk away! Go make your side dishes or wash up your flouring dishes. If you have to touch it, just give your pan a light shimmy to make sure that nothing is sticking. The more you fiddle with the chicken, the more you knock the crust loose. So, I waited until it got pretty brown on the first side (the oil was deep enough that most of the chicken was covered) before gently rolling the pieces over. Once the chicken is nice and GBD all the way around, move it to a paper towel lined plate. I stuck a thermometer in the thickest piece to make sure that it was 180F. If it isn’t, you can bake it for a few minutes, but mine was perfectly done. I think that’s probably due to not having any bones and all of the pieces being roughly the same size.

My chicken wound up being delicious! I feel so accomplished. It only took me 40 some years to get over my fear of frying.

A blast from the past

March 21st, 2016

This weekend, while watching Pioneer Woman, I got fruit cocktail on the brain (she made some). More specifically, I got fruit cocktail CAKE on the brain. My mom used to make it all the time when I was a kid. Suddenly, on saturday, I was obsessing about it. Of course, the internet has 1000 recipes for it, but I couldn’t be sure which one was the “right” one. Mom didn’t have it, and it took Dad a while to find it but at least he did. It wasn’t so much a recipe as just a list of ingredients.

Fruit Cocktail Cake

1.5 C sugar
2 C flour (I assumed self rising, that’s what Mom always kept around)
1 t baking soda
1 egg
1 t vanilla
2 cups fruit cocktail (in heavy syrup, one 16 oz can)

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.


1 sm can cream (I assumed this meant evaporated milk, that’s the only cream I know of in a can and it tasted right)
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla
1 stick butter

Cook 20 minutes.

It took more like 45 minutes to bake in my oven, and it fell. But I seem to remember this cake always being sunken in the middle. It’s dense and a bit gooey. As for the glaze, it’s a bit grainy, but the texture seems to jive with my memory. It’s so tasty, I’ve eaten a lot of it this weekend.