Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photoshop Actions~Part One

Photoshop Actions are little shortcuts. They are designed to simplify repetitive processes & condense multiple steps in Photoshop, to a simple click of the mouse. Many free actions can be found on the internet, as well as some great ones you can pay for. I found this set here. Directions on how to install them & use them are also available online.
If you don't have Photoshop, you can download a 30-day trial on Adobe's website.
I will warn you that dabbling in stuff like this can lead to hours & hours of playing around. Here are some of the examples. You can see that not all actions work well for every photo. Some are best for portraits, while some are better suited for landscapes....some are great for colorful, crisp, close-ups, while others work well on dark, high-contrast photos...etc, etc.

The original



Dim the Lights



Sepia Tone



Sharpen This

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chicken & Rice with Tomatoes, White Wine & Parsley

I'm all about one pot meals. So, when I saw this recipe in Cooks Illustrated magazine, I knew I'd be making it one day.
It's super easy, quick & makes a great weeknight dinner.

Begin by finely dicing a medium onion,

finely mincing 3 cloves of garlic,

and chopping a 1/3 cup fresh parsley. Set all of these aside for now.

Then, open a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes & drain over a measuring cup. Reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid.

Measure out a 1/2 cup of white wine,

and 1 1/2 cups of long grain white rice.

Next, you'll need a 3-4 pound chicken that has been cut up into 8 serving pieces. Generously season both sides of each piece with some kosher salt & freshly ground pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot, over medium high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces, skin side down & sear for about 6 minutes.
Using tongs, flip the pieces & cook for another 6 minutes.

Remove the chicken & pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat, from the pot.

Add the onions & saute for 4-5 minutes.

Then add the garlic & saute for 1 minute.

Add the rice & cook for an additional minute.

Next, add the wine, tomatoes, 2 cups of water,

the chicken thighs & legs, along with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
Bring to a boil & use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Uncover the pot, add the chicken breasts & stir up the rice, to help it cook evenly. Cover, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
If the rice needs more time, add in some more water if necessary & remove the chicken breasts, to prevent them from overcooking & drying out.

Remove from the heat & stir in the parsley. Cover & let sit for 5 minutes,

then serve.

Kitchen Tool of the Week...

A Dutch Oven.

In the winter months, I use mine constantly. I have two, both made by Le Crueset. One, I inherited from my grandmother & the other was a gift from my MIL. These pots can be very expensive, so I'm happy about that. I know that there are many less expensive versions, that supposedly work very well. Try someplace like Target...I hear they sell some that are very highly rated.
Dutch oven's are perfect for making stews, soups, tomato sauce & any kind of braising.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Okay. So, if there is any possible way to improve on something as perfect as a rice krispie treat, just add ice cream.
I found this new dessert in the natural foods aisle of the local mega-store, Stop & Shop.
The Bozo's are huge fans of rice krispie treats, a gene they inherited from me, so of course I picked a box up. They only lasted one evening in the house, as DH found the box in the freezer & that was the end of that.
Bozo #2 is a generous soul & shared a bite with me. It was enough to know they are darn good.

They are so new, that there is very little about them on the internet. But, I did find that they are made for Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods, they are kosher, and they are made with only all natural ingredients.

I picked up a second box a few days ago & planned on posting a photo I took of them. But, it was so boring when compared to this publicity photo I found online. Is it just me, or is that chocolate cube smoking a cigarette?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Satur Farms

I love the products from this company.
It is a husband & wife owned farm in Long Island. The husband is a chef & they specialize in out of the ordinary products. Like zucchini squash blossoms, Asian stir-fry greens & multi-colored baby carrots.
I picked up this package of hearty vegetables. It contains tiny pieces of cut up cauliflower, broccoli & sugar snap peas. It was cheaper than buying the vegetables separately...and now there is a little something to please everyone.
Every time I see their stuff, I just want to buy it, because it looks so pretty. I love when they package up cool combinations of things, all ready to go...like this one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ham & Cheese Quiche

I have a lot of experience making quiche. It's what I make nearly every time I host, or cater a shower, or luncheon. This recipe is not from a cookbook, but something I have developed over time, with some help from my MIL...who happens to make an awesome quiche herself.
Nearly every quiche recipe is different. Some use less eggs & add in crème fraîche. Some use half cream & half whole milk. Personally, this is my favorite & comes out with a texture that is neither too firm, nor too gooey.
I am making it with very simple fillings today...as it's for the Bozo's dinner. But, you can get very creative. Some of my favorites are caramelized shallots & goat cheese, or sharp cheddar with spinach & sliced fresh tomatoes on top.
It's a great way to empty out the fridge on leftover night...anything goes. And these proportions will work for anything.
You should have a partially baked pie shell ready. It can be store bought, or made from scratch.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, add 5 eggs.

To them add a pint of half & half,

a pinch of nutmeg,

a teaspoon of kosher salt,

and a 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper.

Then, whisk it all up.
This is your custard.

I don't measure anything as far as fillings. You can add anything you want, up to a little less than half way full. Here, I sprinkle in some jack cheese.
I would prefer swiss with the ham...but, again, Bozo's.

Take some good quality smoked ham, or cooked bacon, if you prefer.

Dice it up & sprinkle that in as well.

Then pour in your custard.

Before baking, I like to place my pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. This just makes it easier to get in & out of the oven without breaking the crust.

Bake for about an hour & 15 minutes...or, until the filling is set & no longer jiggly.

Let it cool for about 10 minutes & serve.
It can also be served at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I'm thinking of having a "Bozo Picture of the Week". But, in the meantime, it's just a picture.

Pâte Brisée~Part Two

When you are ready to use your pie crust, you need to thaw it up to room temperture, or just a bit cooler than that. If you chilled it for 45 minutes, then 10 minutes should be enough time...If it was chilled overnight, or longer, keep it out for about a half hour.
Then place the disc of dough on a well floured work surface.

Roll the dough out into a large circle, until it is about an 1/8" thick. I have never successfully rolled out a pie crust into a perfect circle. And it really doesn't matter, as long as it's big enough to fit in your pie plate.

Fold the round into quarters.

Then put it into the pie plate, so that the point is at the center.

Unfold it.

Gently fit it into the bottom edges of the dish.

Fold the edges under themselves & crimp the edges however you like....or, you can just leave it rustic. I like to do this, because it looks homemade. If the overhang is longer than an inch or so, just trim off the excess before doing this.

Chill for 30 minutes & preheat the oven to 375 degrees while you are waiting.

Once chilled, line the shell with aluminum foil. Then line the bottom with pie weights.

Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the foil & bake for another 5-7 minutes,

or until golden brown.
At this point it has been "partially" baked & is ready to fill with whatever you are making...I will be using it for a quiche.