Friday, June 25, 2010

Some Pictures

Here are some pictures of a few of my favorite things! Our plants and our dog! 

 My Aphid killer

 The plant with the purple flower is the reason for the marigold.

 One of our pepper plants! 

Sadie, in her favorite place. She can see everything that is happening from right there. 

Love that big goofy lazy dog... 

More plant pics to come!! (and there will always be more dog pics!) Wish you a great weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Panna Cotta

John has had a lot more experience with French food than I have since we've lived here and every once in a while he comes home and says, "You need to try to make this." A few weeks ago, he came home talking about this dessert that he had at work called Panna Cotta. (Ok, so it's not French, it's Italian, but Nice used to be part of Italy..) I looked for a recipe, found one, and made it. I might add, I really had no idea what this was supposed to look, taste, or act like. John was the judge. He judged- ok, but too sweet. So, I made it again with less sugar. He judged- just right. I like the first one best so you can decide for yourself! 

Panna Cotta is a great, light, melt in your mouth dessert. It is one of those things that looks so fancy and difficult but takes about 15 minutes to make and with very little effort. I highly recommend it.
Care for a taste? yummm!

Panna Cotta
- 1 C (250ml) whipping cream
- 1 C (250ml) milk
- 1/4 C (50g) sugar (for the less- sugar version, subtract a tablespoon of sugar)
- 2 1/2 sheets of gelatin, about 5 grams; see instructions
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste (for the less sugar version, only use 1 tbls of Vanilla)

Combine all the panna cotta ingredients (See instructions below for the gelatin) in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring from time to time (do not let it boil). Let cool for five minutes. Rinse four half-cup ramekins or bowls quickly under cold water, do not dry (this will help unmold them if you choose to), and distribute the panna cotta mixture evenly among them. Keep in the refrigerator until firm, about three hours or overnight.

Important note: Do not combine the gelatin with the rest of the ingredients. Instead, soak the sheets in a bowl of cold water while you bring the other ingredients to a simmer, then squeeze with your hands to drain (they will be soft), and whisk into the (hot but not boiling) panna cotta mixture to dissolve before pouring into the ramekins. 

Note: This is recommended to be served with a Strawberry Coulis. (Fancy way of saying Strawberry sauce.) Just cook down some strawberries with sugar, to your taste, and when they have cooled, throw them in the food processor, blend until smooth, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Pour a little bit of the coulis on top of the panna cotta before serving. 

Enjoy guys! Happy Thursday! 
Recipe adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Conquering My Fear

My Granny Saylor always made the best rolls. I mean... really.. the best. Every holiday, those rolls were on the table. Hot, golden brown, made-from-scratch goodness. And, on special occasions, (Which it always was when she made these rolls.) she broke out the real butter. Yeh. Lethal combination. Before I realized how fattening they were, my Christmas dinner always consisted of rolls, green beans, rolls, macaroni and cheese, tiny piece of ham, and another roll. But I think that watching Granny make rolls is one of the reasons that I had a fear of yeast. You see, my Granny was one of the least patient people in the world. (I'm probably 2nd, right after her.) So whenever she made rolls it was a race to the finish line. Flour flying everywhere, butter melted in about 3 different bowls, 3 different pans because she never started out with one big enough. And then they had to raise. She didn't leave enough time for them to raise naturally, that would have been.... unnatural... for her. Where to put them???? In a hot car. Outside. In the sun. Those suckers didn't have a chance. 

Because I grew up watching this.. dance..that Granny had with her yeast rolls, I have been afraid to use it. She ran around like a "chicken with its head cut off" the entire time she was making them. (Although, thinking back, she was prone to do this with other things too..) I like to stay calm in the kitchen. So no yeast. Until the other day when I had a severe desire for a cinnamon roll. They were worth the risk. 

And you know what?? I did it. I made them. They rose. (Eventually. This waiting stuff is for the birds.) I baked them and we ate every single one. 

So Granny, this recipe is for you. She would be proud of me. 

Most Amazing Cinnamon Rolls
  • 1/4-ounce package yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. 
3.Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. 
4. Spread melted butter all over dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on dough.
5. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.
6. Coat the bottom of baking pan with butter. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. 
7.Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

For the icing: Beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Recipe is a blend of these 2- Here and Here

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Velo Noir et Bleu

A few months ago, the city of Nice started a "green initiative" called Velo Bleu. It is a bike rental program with small stations all over the city of Nice. All you have to do is walk up to the big blue station with the big blue bicycles (velo bleu), hit the right buttons, call a number, and viola! You have a bike. Easy huh? John and I thought so too. So, we each bought a year membership and should be getting a card in the mail this week so all we have to do is swipe our card and take a bike- even easier.

This past Monday I decided to try out our new bikes. I was going to the library and thought that I could probably make it to town faster that way than I could take the bus. So, off I went to the closest Velo station. And spent the next 15 minutes trying to get it to work. It didn't. I walked to the NEXT station. No bikes. I walked to the NEXT station. Again, no bikes. Then I remembered that there is one more station in our little block. In a slightly odd place so I figured that it might actually have a bike. It did. After walking to 4 bike stations and already sweating like a pig- I had a bike. Unfortunately, there was a very narrow sidewalk and a busy street. I haven't ridden a bike in about... 12 years.. and thought this might be testing my luck just a little bit. (Actually, I am pretty sure this adventure had NO luck what so ever. You'll see.) So, I walked the bike to the nice bike path that runs from one side of Nice to the other and finally got on. It didn't go well. Something was wrong with this bike. It wanted to go right. No matter what I did, it wanted to go right. I took one hand off the handlebars to scratch my nose and BAM. Ran into a fence. I kid you not. I really ran into a fence, fell of the bike, and scraped my knee and the top of my foot within the first minute of being on this thing. But, I was DETERMINED to get to the library on this stupid bike. After walking around for 30 minutes just to FIND it- darn it, I -would- make it to the library if it killed me. So, I got back on and realized that they are doing construction on the bike path and I had to ride in the grass. (See? No luck. No luck at all.) Scraped the top of my other foot getting through all of that mess and finally made it to the nice, smooth path. Beautiful scenery, nice, calm sea, just wonderful. I couldn't look at it though. Too busy trying to keep the crazy bike from running over people. Almost took out a nice old man. ( I assume he was nice. All I saw was his back.) Oh, almost forgot, the road I was riding beside has bus stops and where these bus stops are, the path curves. In a few of these curves were work vehicles. So not only did I have to take the curve on the crazy bike but I had to also go around another car/truck. Yeh, right. I ended up on the sidewalk and then made my way back to the bike path. (Oh, it's such a good thing I can laugh at myself.) I made it up the road, found where I needed to turn to reach the library, but there were no bike stations. I road a little farther- still no stations. Eventually, I had to turn around, go back, and walk the stupid, stupid bike across the road to find a station. After a harrowing bike ride, I finally made it to the library and only an hour late. 

I took the bus home.

And, I have bruises. John and I now have a new name for Velo Bleu. Velo Noir et Bleu.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sesame and Cilantro Pasta

With summer is just around the corner I've been trying to find some lighter, easier dishes for dinner. Specifically, ones that don't involve the oven. It has started to warm up in Nice and since we don't want to turn on the AC yet, keeping the heat down in the apartment is essential. 

I came across this one last week while perusing my favorite food blog- Simply Recipes. If you are ever looking for a good recipe, start here first. It's the best. Anyways, the original recipe is for a meatless pasta salad served cold. We have made a few little changes from the original beginning with the fact that John is always a little leery of anything that is meatless. So, the second time we made it, John sauteed some chicken, sliced it, and threw it on top. Also, we serve it nice and warm. I tried the leftovers cold the next day and it just didn't have the rich sesame taste that it does when it's hot. 

Sorry, I had every intention of taking pictures of this. I even delayed blogging about it so that I could take pictures. But, it was a late dinner, we were both hungry, and I just didn't take any. Hopefully, the next time we make this I will manage to get a few pictures in before we eat. 

Update: here is a picture for you!

Sesame and Cilantro Pasta 
Honey Soy Dressing
1/4 cup grapeseed oil or corn oil (I used Vegetable oil and it was fine.)
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
8 ounces of spaghetti, or angel hair pasta
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup sliced and chopped red bell pepper
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2-3 chicken breasts


1 Cook the pasta in a large saucepan in salted boiling water, according to directions on pasta package. Drain but do not rinse. 

2 While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a microwave-safe dish, heat the vegetable oil, sesame oil, and red pepper, in the microwave on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the honey and soy sauce and mix well.

3 Combine the drained pasta with the dressing in a large bowl until the pasta is well coated. Mix in the cilantro, peanuts, green onions and bell pepper. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

4 To saute your chicken- Coat both sides with salt and pepper. Add 2 tbls olive oil to a medium-large metal skillet. Heat on medium-high heat until oil is HOT. Place chicken in skillet. BE CAREFUL. Oil will pop. 
5 Cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of your chicken. Flip, reduce heat, and cover. Check chicken temperatures after 3 minutes. If thoroughly cooked, remove from heat, allow to cool for a few minutes, slice and serve on top of pasta. 

Original Recipe thanks to Simply Recipes

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

L’Italie à Table

John and I had a fantastic weekend. Again. We are both loving the warmer weather here in Nice and with that warm weather come more things to do. Last weekend there was a large Italian food expo/festival in the center of Nice so on Sunday afternoon we took the bus into town with the idea of just walking around for a bit and then going for ice cream. Number one rule- No buying! I am pretty sure we knew going into it that we were doomed for failure. John and I plus tents full of Italian food can always mean great things for our tummies but not so much for our bank account. Things started pretty positively. We wandered, we perused, we even tasted. Bought a cup of espresso each (Italian espresso is the best.yum.), shared a small glass of beer, and then I realized that the Italians make my favorite drink- Prosecco. Oh, crumb, is it great. And, there was a distributor there at the festival. Big, fat, wedding cake crumb. I had a glass (Might I add, John was much less stingy with his beer than I was with my prosecco...) and then my sweet husband had pity on me and bought a bottle. After that, we bought a big box of Risotto -my next project- and John picked out a bologna that he wanted. (See, I am nice. I may not share my drink, but I let him pick out something he would like better.) After that, we debated the ice cream stop that we had actually come into town for but not for very long. Ice cream always wins debates. 

Photo log
Yeh! for Italian dinners! 

We bought a piece of that. John's Pick! 

 John thought this looked tasty. I was not so sure. 

 Ohhhhh man. Great stuff.

 The Prosecco Man. John was really just taking a picture of the table and he smiled for us. Ha!

 Of course, nothing is complete without CHEESE!

More info about L’Italie à Table

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grilled Chicken Glaze

A couple of nights ago, right before our weekly grocery trip, I was completely out of ideas for dinner. John was on his way home, late, and I really needed to get things going for dinner so we could actually spend our evening together instead of me running around the kitchen while John ran around getting things ready for work the next day. Earlier in the day,  I had put out a couple of pieces of chicken to thaw and had planned on grilling them. But in what? And WITH what?? We had some rice.. we had one zucchini.... a couple of tomatoes.... but did anything actually go together... That was the question. 
And in the end, yes it did!! 
One quick look online and I had a great chicken glaze, and from there I went with basmati rice, sauteed zucchini and tomatoes with garlic, salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil. Don't you love when odds and ends turn into a great meal??
And, so you can turn your odds and ends into a great meal- here is the FANTASTIC glaze. 

Honey-Basalmic Grilled Chicken
First, sprinkle both sides of your chicken breasts with Thyme, Salt, and Pepper. Place on the grill, cook on each side for about 4 minutes. (Depending on the temp. of your grill this could vary.)

While your chicken is cooking, in a small skillet, warm 
1/2 Tbls Olive Oil
-After this is simmered and it aromatic, Add 2 Tbls Honey and 2 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar 
-Cook until reduced a bit and remove from heat. 
-When you flip your chicken- midway through cooking- put a bit of the glaze on the chicken. 
-Add more glaze after the meat is removed from the grill, right before you serve it! 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The French Hate Trees

 I have been preparing for this blog for quite some time. You know, collecting data, taking pictures, checking my facts. ( I have to be thorough, right?) Finally, I am ready to discuss my findings. The French hate trees. It's a fact. Everywhere you go, and village, town, or city in France will have trees that just look pitiful. You know the trees that small children draw with the really big trunk and then a few little strings of branches coming right out the top? Those are artists' renderings of trees in France. No tree is safe, whether it is a palm, pine, olive, or beech, from the skilled "arborists" of France. They trim, they saw, they CONQUER those green little guys!

The Evidence:

I think I've proved my point. And, just to leave you on a slightly more beautiful note, here is a sunrise in Corsica. Hope you all have a lovely Wednesday!

Disclaimer: This blog post is a joke. Please don't think I'm serious. :-)