Anguilla: Pepperpot Soup & Sweet Potato Balls

Greg has the "Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant" cookbook, which is a goldmine of vegetarian and pescatarian recipes. What's best about this particular cookbook is that it has ethnic and regional recipes from cooks at Moosewood Restaurant. I love reading all the little tales that accompany the regions and recipes.

The section I browsed last weekend was "The Caribbean." Many of the recipes were from the cook's travels in Anguilla. Anguilla is not really a country, but is a British Overseas Territory. It is one of the northernmost Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. I tried to find recipes from St. Lucia, as I have been there before (and it was a stunningly beautiful, wonderful place with great food). It would've made for great blog fodder. Sadly, there were no St. Lucian recipes I could find that a) Had major ingredients that were readily available to me, and b) I actually wanted to eat (salted fish and what not). SO. I'm going to count these "Anguillan" recipes as my St. Lucian recipes, because they're all part of the same big chain of islands and I'm sure they all have similar foodstuffs.On a related note, St. Lucia is incredible and amazing, and everyone should go there at least once in their lives. I stayed at a resort called Anse Chastanet, and I doubt I'll ever stay at a finer, better kept resort as long as I live (unless I return there, of course).

The Mariner's Pepperpot Soup
(from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook)
-1 large onion, chopped
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-2 celery stalks, chopped
-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
-1 large green bell pepper, chopped
-1 large red bell pepper, chopped
-2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
-1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste--I added quite a bit more)
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon cloves
-6 cups vegetable stock
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-1 cup cooked brown rice
-Minced fresh parsley

1. In a soup pot, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until the onion is translucent, 5-10 minutes.

2. Add the celery, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, and spices. Saute for another 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

3, Add the stock, wine, and rice and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Servings: 6-8
Calories: Unknown, but really hearty and not bad for you!

A whole lotta preppin' going on...

Sweet Potato Balls
(from the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook)
-1 pound sweet potatoes
-1 egg, beaten
-1 small onion, minced
-1 tablespoon milk
-1 tablespoon butter
-3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger root (**NOTE: I haven't shared my feelings on this yet, but I LOVE bottled minced ginger. Oh my god. It's the greatest, most time savingest measure I've ever discovered.**)
-2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
-Pinch of cayenne-
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1/4+ cup of vegetable oil (I needed more than 1/4 cup)
-2 cups bread crumbs (they recommend wheat; I was too lazy to drag out the food processor, so used the premade kind that are awful for you and are inferior to fresh)

1. Cook the sweet potatoes. Either bake them and scoop out the insides, or peel them and then steam or boil and drain.

2. Mash the cooked sweet potatoes and mix together with all the ingredients except the oil and bread crumbs.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet on medium heat.

4. Place bread crumbs in a bowl or plate. Form little balls by dropping a heaping tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture into the bread crumbs, dredging each ball through the bread crumbs.

5. Fry several balls at a time in the hot oil, rolling around occasionally to brown on all sides.

6. When golden brown, drain them on paper towels and serve immediately, or keep warm in the oven until you're ready to serve.

--Optional: You may stuff each ball with an olive or little cube of sharp cheese by poking them into the center of the ball with your finger. Roll the balls in bread crumbs and fry as above.

Servings: Not known, but yields 20 balls. These AREN'T very good for you, given that they're fried in oil, but they're so, so tasty. We ate 3 or 4 balls each with our soup.

Verdict: This was one flavorful, addictively delicious meal. It was very hearty for being 100% vegetarian. Greg still thinks that Hungary wins, even though he liked Anguilla very much.

Cheeseburger Pizza.....with Pickles!

While in Minnesota for a friend's wedding, Greg and I had the immense pleasure of getting takeout from Old World Pizza in Inver Grove Heights (a suburb of Minneapolis). The only reason was because they had a Cheeseburger Pizza that included dill pickle slices in the toppings. There wasn't even a question of whether or not we would get it, we just did. And my god, if it wasn't one of the most fantastic pizzas I've ever had (you can find my drooling, glowing review on Yelp). It just goes to show that truly great pizza isn't only found in Chicago or New York, but in the most random places.

Greg and I were anxious to recreate this pizza and decided to give it a try last night. While it was nowhere near as good as the one at Old World Pizza (for several reasons, but one being that we didn't put a pound of mozzarella on it, I'm sure). We don't have a hard and fast recipe, but I'll try my best. I highly recommend creating your own! It'll knock your socks off.....if you're a pickle lover.

Cheeseburger Pizza

-1 premade pizza crust (we used wheat, but use whatever you like)
-1/4 cup tomato sauce
-A few heaping spoonfuls of tomato paste--enough to really thicken the tomato sauce
-1/2 lb ground beef (or slightly less)
-1/4 cup chopped onions
-Italian seasoning
-Garlic (both +/- 1 tsp. minced and the powder-form)
-+/- 1 generous tablespoon Ketchup
-+/- 1 generous tablespoon Mustard (we used a stone ground, because we were out of plain yellow)
-Salt & Pepper
-Dill pickle slices (for hamburgers, the jar will say)
-Grated sharp cheddar (or whatever cheese you the future, we'll add mozzarella)

1. Saute the ground beef and onion together until browned. Drain off excess grease. Set aside.
2. Mix tomato sauce & paste until thick-ish, like a pizza sauce. Add the minced garlic, ketchup, mustard and mix well. Spread sauce on the pizza crust.
3. Add a light sprinkling of cheese on top of the sauce. Spread the ground beef & onion mix uniformly on top of the cheese.
4. Pat your pickle slices dry with paper towel, then add them to the pizza.
5. Tap some garlic powder and Italian Seasoning all across the pizza. Smother with your desired amount of shredded cheese.
6. Bake at 425 for about 12 minutes or until heated through with melty cheese. Mmmm....

-Calories: I don't know and I don't want to know.

Barley Pilaf with Artichoke Hearts

Turns out that many "national dishes" are meat, stews, or meat stews. Greg and I aren't typically huge meat eaters, and are very content to eat vegetarian dinners all week long. In an effort to break up the meat-stew-meat-stew fare as of late, I made a Danish Kringle (yay desserts!) which you'll see below. This freed me to make whatever veggie dish I wanted for dinner. Woohoo! Greg made a pesto dish last week, and we now have this homemade pesto coming out of our ears. As such, tonight I made one of my very favorite weeknight dishes from Cooking Light, "Barley Pilaf with Artichoke Hearts." It doesn't sound all that exciting, but trying it once will forever change your mind.

Barley Pilaf with Artichoke Hearts
-2 c. warm water
-1 c. uncooked quick-cooking barley
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1 tbsp. olive oil
-1 (14 oz) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
-1 tsp. bottled minced garlic
-2 tbsp. pesto (commercially bottled or homemade--if homemade, you may want 1 tablespoon more, depending on how strongly flavored your pesto is)
-1 tbsp. lemon juice
-1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
-1/2 c. (2 oz) grated Parmesan
-*Optional: Sliced or diced black olives. Tonight was the first time I've ever deviated from the recipe at all (why mess with perfection?), and it was just to help use up leftover olives. This was still great, so I recommend adding whatever strikes your fancy.

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cook 3 minutes. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes or until tender.

2. While barley cooks, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add artichokes and garlic. Saute 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Stir pesto, lemon juice, and beans into barley. Serve artichoke mixture over barley; top with cheese.

-Yield: 4 Servings -Calories: 405

Denmark: Danish Kringle


Well, folks, this one is my bad. Had I done my research properly, I would've known that a real Danish kringle is shaped like a pretzel, and not what I've done here. What I did (which, admittedly, the recipe kind of lead me to believe was accurate) was the way we do it in the United States--where the kringle is long and rectangular (or oval). I got my recipe from Christian's Danish Recipes website (a goldmine of Danish recipes, by the way). I felt this recipe was authentic in the "it looks like someone's grandma wrote it, because the instructions are vague"-kind of way.

Now, I've had a love affair with kringle since childhood. Being that I'm from Milwaukee, we had easy access to Racine Danish Kringle (which, incidentally, managed to get a hold on ""). Racine, WI has a rich Danish heritage, and prides itself on making one hell of a kringle. We would (and do) buy these dense, flaky, rich pastries for all major holiday breakfasts. Obviously, kringles are near and dear to my heart, and there was no other choice but to make them for my Denmark challenge.

Alas, American kringles (even 'authentic' Racine kringles) are not like Danish kringles, so the end result was nothing at all like I expected or wanted. Perhaps this is what non-puff-pastry kringles taste like in Denmark--sadly, I wouldn't know. This is more of a sweet yeast bread in American-kringle form. It's more like stollen. It's's just not my idea of kringle. Perhaps someone whose had real Danish sukkerkringle from Denmark can clue me in.

Danish Kringle - Dansk Kringle
-4 cups flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 cup butter
-3 tablespoons sugar
-2 packages dry yeast
-1/4 cup warm water (110-120 degrees)
-1 cup milk
-3 eggs and 1 egg white, beaten with a fork
-1 teaspoon cardamom
-Sugar, cinnamon, and slivered almonds to sprinkle
-**Note: The original recipe refers to "some filling," which I misread while grocery shopping and just assumed it was the sugar, cinnamon and almonds. Nope. SO, fortunately, I'd had the foresight to buy some fat-free cream cheese. I used that and rhubarb-strawberry jam in one, and cream cheese, brown sugar, and chopped walnuts in the other. Whatever kind of filling you want to concoct is entirely up to you.**

1. Blend flour, salt, butter and sugar, as for any crust. **Note: See what I mean about being vague? "Oh, you know, just do it like a crust." I chopped the butter into small pieces and blended it into the flour with two knives until a coarse meal formed (of course, if you have a pastry blender--which I don't--this would be a much easier task). Once you're sweaty and wrist-crampy from all the blending, gently mix in the sugar and salt.**

2. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. This is a lot of yeast for that amount of water, so stir until the lumps are gone.

3. Scald the milk (that is, heat it until bubbles form around the edge and it starts steaming--don't let it boil!), cool for a few minutes, and add to the beaten eggs. Stir. Add dissolved yeast, cardamom, and flour-butter mixture. Hand mix until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place or until doubled in bulk (about an hour).

4. Place the dough on a floured board, pat with the hands as though beating the dough. **Note: Okay. So, I knew while mixing the dough that this would be extraordinarily goopy and unmixable, unknead-able and un-pick-upable-as-a-mass-able. I flooped the dough out onto a heavily floured cutting board and hit the middle of the dough with my fist....and it looked like I had beige gak attached to me. I added about 1/4 - 1/2 cup more flour to make it easier to work with. Once the dough no longer stuck to me when I hit it and picked it up, I stopped adding flour.**

5. Divide dough in half and place on two well-greased baking sheets. Spread the dough out thinly with your fingers. Spread the middle with some filling. Bring up edges to the center and press together to seal. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and slivered almonds. **Note: The instruction about folding was also unclear to me. Which edges? Will this dough actually "press together"? So, I did it like a business envelope (again, emulating Racine kringles)--one side to the center, the other side over that one, trying my best to crimp those edges together. This dough, despite the extra flour was very thin and had to be moved to the center in stages. Be gentle!**

6. Bake 20 minutes in a oven preheated to 350, until golden-brown.

-Yield: Makes 2 loaves.

Daring Cooks Challenge January 2010: Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce

I joined the "Daring Cooks," which is a blogging community with a monthly challenge. The challenge is revealed to members on the 17th of the month before (i.e. this recipe was revealed to me on December 17th), and members reveal their creations on the 14th of the next month. So, Happy January 14th Reveal Date, everyone!

This month's challenge was a nice one to ease me into the community: Satay. The challenge was hosted by Cuppy. She chose this Satay recipe from the cookbook "1000 Recipes" by Martha Day. Satay is common street fare all over the world. Basically, it is marinated meat that's been grilled or broiled, served on a skewer with a variety of dipping sauces. This variation of the recipe is Thai-influenced. Cuppy does not like chilies or fish sauce, so her version is more Indian-influenced. I did add the chiles and fish sauce, because I loves me some Thai food.

One note: Unfortunately, because I made this in December, I cannot count it as one of my "50 Countries" recipes. Sad, I know.

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce:
-1/2 small onion, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, crushed
-2 tablespoons ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)
-2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
-1 tablespoon soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
-1 teaspoon ground coriander (5 mls)
-1 teaspoon ground cumin (5 mls)
-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
-2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)
-1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts) (16 oz or 450g)
-1 dragon chili
-1 tablespoon (0.5 oz or 15 mls) fish sauce

1. If you have a food processor or blender, dump in everything (except the pork) and blend until smooth. Lacking a food processor, chop onions, garlic and ginger really fine, then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.

2. Cut pork into 1 inch strips. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

Chill Chart for Marinading Meat:
Pork: 4-8 hours (up to 24 hours)
Chicken: 1-4 hours (up to 12 hours)
Beef or Lamb: 6-8 hours (up to 24 hours)
Vegetables: 20 minutes - 2 hours (up to 4 hours)
Tofu (no oil): 20 minutes - 4 hours (up to 12 hours)

3. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.

4. Gently and slowly slide meat strips vertically onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.

5. Broil or grill at 290°C/550° F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes. If you’re grilling or broiling, you could definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers.

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
-3/4 cup coconut milk (6 oz or 180 mls)
-4 Tbsp peanut butter (2 oz or 60 mls)
-1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
-1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
-1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
-1/2 tsp ground cumin (2.5 mls)
-1/2 tsp ground coriander (2.5 mls)
-1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)

1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.

2. Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.

3. All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.

Pepper Dip (optional):
-4 Tbsp soy sauce (2 oz or 60 mls)
-1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
-1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
-1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)
-1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)

1. Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Tamarind Dip (optional):
-4 Tbsp tamarind paste (2 oz or 60 mls)
-1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
-1 clove of garlic, minced1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)
-1 tsp brown or white sugar, or to taste (about 5 mls)

1. Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Thai Saffron Rice (Optional, but recommended! From
-2 cups jasmine rice
- 2 1/2 cups good-tasting chicken stock OR if vegetarian, use vegetable or faux-chicken stock
-1/2 tsp. saffron threads
-1/2 tsp. turmeric
-1/4 tsp. ground cumin
-1 clove minced garlic
-1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili (available in the spice aisle)
-1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce OR 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt if vegetarian
-Squeeze of lemon juice

1. Measure stock into a pot and place over high heat on your stove. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. (If using stock cubes or powder, be sure they are well dissolved in the boiling water.)
Add the saffron threads, turmeric, cumin, garlic, chili and fish sauce or salt to the hot stock. Stir well.

2. Pour this mixture into your rice cooker together with the rice. Stir and cover. Switch on the cooker.

3. When rice is done, fluff with a fork or chopsticks (the dried chili may have risen to the top - just stir it in). Taste-test for saltiness, adding a little more fish sauce or salt if needed. If too salty, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice (how salty your rice turns out depends on the salt content of your stock).

4. Serve your saffron rice as a side dish with nearly any Southeast-Asian, Indian, or Western fare you might be cooking up, and ENJOY!

Hungary: Pörkölt (Goulash)

I don't know about you, but when "food" and "hungary" come into my mind, I automatically think "goulash." Goulash seems to be synonymous with Hungary, and it's no surprise, given that it is one of the three National Dishes of Hungary.

I pulled this version of goulash from Chili & Vanilia's blog. They had a wonderful, detailed post about the different kinds of goulash. Pörkölt is a thick meat stew that can be made with all kinds of meat, and is considered the traditional Hungarian goulash. Gulyásleves is a goulash soup--the one that Americans typically think of when they think of goulash. It has more root vegetables, water, and always contains caraway seeds. Additionally, there's Paprikás (Chicken Paprikash) which has the same base as Pörkölt, but is thickened with flour and sour cream.

To make this more authentic, you can use lard or other animal fat in place of peanut or sunflower oil. I cannot bring myself to buy lard, so oil it is. I felt the end product was still awesome, so I don't think it's a big deal if you don't want to use lard. In the original post, there was also much debate about what you can put in this version of goulash: Caraway seeds, red wine, fresh tomato, smoked bacon, green peppers, etc. I opted for the first three, because I was worried about a lack of flavor, and I had both on hand. I was extremely pleased with the end result.

Pörkölt Goulash (from Chili & Vanilia)
-1 kg beef or pork stew meat, cubed (This is about 2.2 pounds. I used 1.8 pounds, which turned out fine. I also highly recommend "Country-Style Pork Ribs," the boneless kind. SO GOOD and very tender).
-3-4 big onions, finely chopped (I bought 3 big onions, but two ended up being about 5 cups chopped. So...I went with that. If you're adventurous, you could add another 2-3 cups with the other big onion, but I think 5 cups was plenty).
-4-5 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil (or lard)
-3-4 tbsp best quality Hungarian sweet paprika
-Salt (I used a generous 1/2 teaspoon...salt according to your tastes)
-Pepper (I used a generous 1/4 teaspoon...pepper according to your tastes)
-1 green pepper, sliced
-1 fresh tomato, sliced in half or quartered
-1/3-1/2 c. water (NOTE: I ended up adding a whole cup of water AND 1/6 cup red wine, because I really thought the sauce would burn. The first 1/3 cup got mixed in, but didn't look like it got at all watery, so I added in the wine and the second 1/3 cup. This would probably have been sufficient, but I'm paranoid, so added another 1/3 cup. I should've trusted the recipe, because after a 1/2 hour, the mixture was VERY saucy. I guess this was because the meat is uncooked and leaches a lot of moisture into the mix. Oh well. It was still good a little saucier than the recipe dictates--just not as authentic.)
-*Optional: 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
-*Optional: 1/6 cup red wine (I used merlot--the fruitiness added a nice dimension of flavor)
-Serve over egg noodles, boiled potatoes, or dumplings.

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the finely chopped onions (and caraway seeds, if you so choose) and cook until translucent.

2. Now comes an important secret step: Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the paprika. This is very important, because if you keep the heat on the pan, the paprika could burn from the sudden heat and get bitter.

3. Put it back, add beef/pork cubes and stir so that the spicy onion mix covers the meat evenly. Cover with about 100-150ml (1/3-1/2 cup) water (and wine, if you want) so that the liquid doesn’t completely cover the meat. Add the sliced green pepper, the whole tomato (which will be removed at the end), salt, and pepper. Simmer covered on very low heat for about 1-1,5 hours.

4. After 1 hour, check, add a litle more water if necessary, so the stew doesn’t burn. Depending on the thickness of the sauce, cook for 10-15 minutes uncovered so that all the liquid reduces and all what you get is a spicy, thick sauce which covers the meat. It tastes even better reheated.

-Serves 4
-Calories: Unknown

Verdict: This was so delicious. When I first tasted the sauce (before it boiled), I thought, "Ewwww, paprika water." And I did not have very high hopes. But something magical happens in the hour it simmers, and it becomes fabulous and complex. I would make this again and again.

Greg's Country Battle Royale: Hungary wins over Senegal.

Senegal: Chicken with Coconut Milk and Peanuts.

I am starting with Senegal for no reason other than it seemed like a good, easy recipe for what promised to be a cold, snowy night. According to Wikipedia, Senegalese cuisine is influenced by nations like France, Portugal, and those of North Africa. Primary staples of the Senegalese diet include peanuts, fish, chicken, lamb, sweet potatoes, rice, couscous, lentils, and black-eyed peas. Meats and vegetables are stewed or marinated, and poured over rice or eaten with bread. As such, this recipe fits the mold for Senegalese food.

Senegalese-Style Chicken with Coconut Milk and Peanuts (nabbed from Recipes at
-1 4 lb. chicken, excess fat removed and discarded, cut into 8 pieces (two half breasts, each cut crosswise in half; 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings) **Note: I bought 8 chicken thighs, which worked just as well. And, because I didn't read the recipe closely, I removed all the skin and excess fat. I guess you're not 'supposed' to remove the skin, but it still turned out great and I saved a lot of fat calories. So, I say--remove the skin!**
-2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
-1 tablespoon curry powder
-1 cup chicken broth
-5 medium tomatoes, cut in half, inner fleshy/seedy stuff removed, chopped coarsely (or substitute 28oz can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped--but I think fresh tomatoes were worth it)
-1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I think you could use light coconut milk and it would still work)
-1/3 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
-2 tablespoons lime juice
-*Optional: I added a whole zucchini, sliced length-wise and chopped into half-moon slices. It was REALLY tasty. I think a red pepper would be great, too. Ya gotta get in veggies where you can, right?

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in oil in a skillet over medium-high heat about 8 minutes per side, or until golden-brown on both sides. Take the chicken out of the pan and reserve.

2. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of oil out of the pan used for browning the chicken. Stir in the onions, garlic, and jalapenos (and other veggies, if you so choose). Cook over medium heat, stirring every minute or two, until onions turn translucent (10 minutes or so). Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 more minute.

3. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk. With a ladle, remove half of this mixture and place in a bowl. In the bowl, add the peanut butter and whisk until combined. Reserve.

4. Put the chicken into the remaining liquid in the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch. **NOTE: I'm not sure on what planet the meat only needs 10 minutes more. I assumed the recipe was correct, because the meat looked cooked and was firm to the touch. Sadly, once I was sitting down with my food, I cut into the chicken and it was still red inside. I returned it to the pan and 'simmered' (read: boiled) it for 30 minutes. THEN it was thoroughly cooked and very yummy and tender. So, please use your best discretion with this step!**

5. Arrange the chicken pieces in individual bowls (over rice, if you choose).

6. Whisk the peanut sauce into the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Add in the cilantro and lime juice, stirring well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, simmer for 1 minute more. Ladle over chicken in to the bowls.

Rice (my recipe):
-1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
-2 1/2 cups water
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-A few healthy shakes of salt
-Couple dashes of pepper
-Depending on how spicy you like your rice, a few good shakes of cayenne pepper

1. Pour all ingredients into a rice cooker, stirring well.
2. Let the rice cooker do all the heavy lifting for you. :)

Verdict: I had to use the cilantro-in-a-tube recipe from the thai salad. I've come to the conclusion that cilantro-in-a-tube sucks. It has this weird flavor that real cilantro doesn't have. I think that if I'd used real cilantro, the dish would've been 100% awesome. I may also use only 1 tablespoon of lime juice next time. AND, I thought it would be a fast recipe, but it took over an hour and a half (lots of prep work, extra cooking times). Still, this was a very good, warming dish for when it's very cold outside.

1 country down, 49 to go!

50 Countries, 1 Year

Over breakfast this morning, I asked me and The Fiance's dear friend Scholke what type of challenge I should undertake on my recipe blog this year. "52 recipes!" He said, referencing the fact that I read 52 books in 2009 as my New Year's resolution. I told him that was too easy a challenge. "Well," he said, "You could do one recipe each week that uses an ingredient you've never used before." I rejected this because it would be a steep and slippery slope into needing to make lobsters or octopus (which I refuse to do). Then he said, "OR! 50 recipes from 50 different countries!" I liked this very much.

And so, there it is. I will attempt 50 different recipes from 50 different countries this year. On the 4-hour car ride back from Madison, I made a list of over 50 potential countries, so there shouldn't be any major issues. Of course, some countries have very similar cuisines (like Thailand and Laos, India and Pakistan, England and Australia), but I will strive to make dishes distinctive of the country.

I am VERY open to taking your tried-and-true recipes from all over the world. While I have many ideas, I would love to hear yours. Let 'em rip!