Thursday, July 22, 2010

must try...vanilla syrup

photo by jocelyn larsen

take your right hand and cover up both the seltzer water and the glass-with-ice in this picture.  got it?  yes?  okay, we're just making the secret weapon of stuff sitting on the left of the picture.  why, pray tell, would i not just take my own picture?  because i don't want to--yep. :)  and jocelyn's was just so well composed, i am fearful of my extremely yellow-hued lighting in my blue-countered delay, delay, delay on using my own pics...ANYWAY...

vanilla syrup is the name of the game today.  sugar syrup--it's the mystery ingredient in iced coffee that you get from coffee houses...though theirs is not of the vanilla persuasion, the syrup itself transforms what could be a bland iced coffee into miraculous nectar....(or maybe i shouldn't be craving coffee when i write these things...)

this recipe actually comes directly from jocelyn's blog about life, love, fashion, faith and all sorts of great lifestyle stuff!  check it out at

where, besides the blessed goodness of coffee, might this be used you ask?

well, think summer, think fruit, think sorbet!  though straight fruit is great in a sorbet, a touch of sugar evens things out--and using syrup rather than granules prevents that gritty oh-there-is-sugar-in-this experience.

think italian sodas.
replace the vanilla with mint extract and think amazing hot chocolate.
or amazing chocolate shake.
use coconut extract and you've got yourself coconut syrup...oh, the drool, oh the possibilities.

so without further adieu, by way of a lemon tree written by jocelyn, i give you jason's recipe for vanilla syrup.

vanilla syrup
by jason larsen

1 cup water
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar

in a small saucepan, combine the ingredients together until sugar is fully dissolved and the liquid resembles a syrupy consistency.  store in sealed container.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

sesame noodles

sesame noodles.  i don't know why, but this recipe just reached out and grabbed me.  it was actually the first thing i made with my new-found tasty ingredient of sesame oil.  and oh, did it deliver.  this would be wonderful served with chicken, beef, or even a roasted pork chop.  it is good on it's own, but definitely designed as a "side", since it doesn't have a good source of protein.

below are my adaptations to the original recipe...

boil your favorite spaghetti noodles until al dente.  i didn't have my favorite whole wheat blend thin spaghetti so i "suffered" through with the standard fare.

as the noodles simmer away, combine all the amazing dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl--this will be where your noodles end up, so be sure the bowl is big enough to accommodate them all.

remove the noodles from the pasta water with tongs and put into the bowl with sauce.  toss around until the noodles are covered.

chop your handy-dandy green onions (both white and green parts), and add to the noodle mix.  toss one more time and serve.

 here's the recipe

sesame noodles
adapted from

12 ounces thin pasta noodles
4 whole green onions, diced

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp pure sesame oil
1/2 tsp cayanne pepper (can use hot chili oil instead)
2 Tbsp hot water

bring a large pot of water to a boil.  add noodles and allow to cook until al dente.  in the meantime, whisk together sauce ingredients in a medium bowl.

when the noodles reach al dente, drain them and add to the bowl with the dressing.  toss together and sprinkle with green onions.  serve warm.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

shredded chicken enchiladas

chicken enchiladas in my repertoire came from the combination of a collection of random ingredients plus the desire for something hot from the oven.  so with my over-abundance of canned tomatoes (they grow so fast!), i set out to make homemade enchiladas.

i didn't take process pictures of this one, so i'll bypass the commentary and head straight to the recipe.  enjoy!

shredded chicken enchiladas
original recipe

2 chicken breasts
poultry seasoning to taste
1 small can chopped green chiles
1 small can chopped black olives
1 cup sour cream (any fat-level is fine)
2 cans (approx 26 oz) chopped canned tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce (approx 5 oz)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar
8 burrito-sized flour tortillas

preheat oven to 350-degrees.

grill seasoned chicken until just cooked through (remember, it will go in the oven too).  remove from pan and set aside to cool.  as the chicken cools, put together the sauce.  in a medium saucepan combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, and cumin.  bring to just a simmer and allow to simmer for approximately 20 minutes until ingredient really infuse with each other.

while the sauce is simmering, shred the chicken to make the filling.  you can do this with your hands or with a couple of forks.  once the chicken is shredded, add the chiles and olives.  you may want to add some more grill seasoning to taste.  then add 1/2 cup enchilada sauce.  combine.

when sauce is done, spread approximately 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  for each enchilada, spread the tortilla with sour cream, put in filling and roll up the tortilla.  place in the baking dish and continue assembling the remaining bundles of enchilada goodness.

when pan is full, pour the remaining enchilada sauce over all of the prepared tortillas.  dollop with sour cream, then sprinkle with cheese.  bake 20-30 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.  remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.  great with a side of rice and a chopped salad.