FNCC Challenge: George Duran Artichoke Tuna Salad

Really good if you're wanting some extra zip and tangyness.  I like a little more crunch in my tuna salad so I would probably add celery to this. Join the rest of us at I Blame My Mother for more entries...

Artichoke Tuna Salad
Adapted from George Duran's recipe



  •  2 (6-ounce) cans solid white tuna in water, drained

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 canned artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped, white and green parts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 6 dashes hot sauce, or to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use as a sandwich filling with your favorite bread. It makes a great open-faced tuna melt by topping the tuna with cheese and putting it under the broiler for a few minutes. Or mound it on top of cooked slices of eggplant or portobello mushrooms for a breadless treat.

So Here I Sit....A Short Critique on Military Travel part one.

As I sit here in our economy priced military lodgings contemplating the last day and a half, the phrase that comes to mind when making a military move is "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD FLY COMMERCIAL."

You see, bright and early tommorrow morning (Friday for you folks out there reading this) we were SUPPOSED to be on an airplane flying back to the USA..a land of myth and mystery...my home that I haven't even glanced at in 2 years and 319 days.  Loaded with enough Dramamine to make even the most  seasick of sailors A OK and snuggling a warm baby, I was to be snoozing in my airline seat while gracious flight attendants plied me with beverages and headphones for the in-flight movie. (Well, maybe that's asking a bit much.) Soon we would be landing in balmy Jacksonville, ready to board our pre-scheduled, paid for, non-refundable $700 flight to Atlanta.  (Thinking that Blogger needs an "Ominous" font that I could have put "non-refundable in, because that's right, kids, you know what's coming.)

Honestly, at this point I'd be pleased to be tied loosely with a bungee cord to the wing.

We were informed by a phone call yesterday that our flight was delayed.  We'd leave Saturday, we were told.  I'm actually grateful for the phone call, especially since another mom who is on the flight was notified by her son, who heard the news from a teacher at the school.   Excellent communication system there is, here.

We settle in here and are prepared to wait until we are told to report to the airport tommorrow with all our baggage anyway, as they are going to take it then shuttle us to a hotel to wait until Saturday.  Fabulous.  From word of mouth of others who have been through this, it's usually a hotel somewhere out in the middle of nowhere with no nearby restaurants.  Not exactly ideal for a family with 3 children under 5 and no transportation (turned in the rental car today as required.)  So we suck in our breaths, stiffen our respective upper lips, sighing over the lost $700 that we spent on our own non-refundable flights from Jacksonville to Atlanta, where we are staying for Christmas.  Of course we could reschedule a flight for next week, for an additional $1100.  Oh yes, that's including the $600 that we have now as a credit.  It would have been $1700. 

Already depressed over this news and the constant drizzle soaking Naples over the last few days, we resign ourselves to waiting.  I start to try to look at the bright side...to lighten up...to try for a more positive attitude. That is until my husband approaches with a look of frustration and irritation to the nth degree.  See if you can guess what news I'm about to hear...

"Delayed until Sunday now."

And of course they still want our bags tommorrow.  What they're going to do with them for two days is beyond me.  Stay tuned for more delightful tales of our travels.  Maybe we'll even make it home for New Years.

FNCC Challenge: Ellie Krieger Steamed Artichokes with Almond Saffron Dip

Posting from a hotel room...we have moved and are on our way back to the States, permanently!  I've done a few weeks of this challenge ahead of time...

This week's "chef" is Ellie Krieger, host of Healthy Appetite.  She has a lot of recipes with a lot of great comments so it was difficult to pick one.  Then I remembered the artichokes in my fridge and the decision was made.

This is a great recipe!  The dip is savory and fantastic with the artichokes, and also with other chopped raw veggies.

Steamed Artichokes with Almond Saffron Dip
adapted from Ellie Krieger's recipe at Foodtv.com
  • 4 artichokes
  • Pinch saffron
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Arrange the artichokes in a steamer basket set over at least 3 cups of water and steam, covered, until the leaves can be easily removed, about 1 hour. Let cool. About halfway through cooking check the water level and add more, if necessary.
In a small bowl, stir together saffron and the tablespoon of boiling water. Toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the almonds and add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan. Add onion and cook until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. In a food processor, grind the almonds until finely chopped. Add the saffron mixture, onion mixture, yogurt and parsley and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve with the artichokes.
Per Serving:
Calories 200; Total Fat 10 g; (Sat Fat 1.5 g, Mono Fat 7 g, Poly Fat 2 g) ; Protein 9 g; Carb 22 g; Fiber 8 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 170 mg

Join us at I Blame Mom for more entries!

Garlic Butter Cloverleaf Rolls (Thanks Pioneer woman!)

I had been wanting to try her cast iron skillet rosemary butter rolls, but found out at the last minute that I didn't have rosemary.  I used garlic instead....we were having the rolls with Italian pasta so it worked out well.  I used part of her cinnamon roll dough recipe to make the rolls.  These were delicious!

For the roll dough:
Adapted and modified from a recipe by my idol, Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 quart Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast
  • 8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. “Scald” the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).

I formed small 1 1/2 inch balls and placed 3 to a muffin cup.  Covered with a towel and let rise an hour.

To Top the Rolls:
1/2 stick of butter
sea salt
garlic powder

Melt the stick of butter.  Brush over the risen rolls, and save what you don't use for later.  Sprinkle with as much sea salt and garlic powder as you like.  I baked them at 400 degrees for about 17 minutes, but watch them.  When they're golden, take them out and brush with the remaining butter before serving.  I made 6 small rolls and put the rest of the dough in the fridge for tommorrow.

Chicken Pizzaiola

This dish is a good change of pace from regular spaghetti...and if there's anything that my family loves, it's spaghetti.  I served it on fettucine, though you can serve on any wide noodle.

Thinly slice 2 cups mushrooms and 2 cloves of garlic. Saute in 1 tsp olive oil until tender.

Place chicken thighs in pan and season with salt and pepper.

Top with 2 cups of marinara...I used Paul Newman's.

Top with the mushroom/garlic mix.

Top with cheese.

Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes or until the juices are clear and the cheese is golden.  Serve on fettucine and top with shredded parmesan.

Chicken Pizzaiola
Serves 6

28 oz package of chicken thighs
1 jar marinara sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan

Place chicken in 11x7 pan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute mushrooms and garlic in olive oil until tender and set aside.  Top chicken with marinara, then mushroom mixture.  Top with cheese.  Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes until juices run clear.  Serve on pasta and top with shredded parmesan.

Menu Plan Monday

Busy week this week...I'm trying to get ahead on all of the cooking challenges that I participate in before we leave and this is my last week of cooking.  Next week the kitchen gets deep cleaned and we're down to taco bell for a few days.  With the exception of tonight, lots of good stuff.

Lunch:  Artichoke Tuna Salad
Navy Band Christmas party at a local Italian restaraunt.  Can't wait for some REAL Napoli food.

Lunch:  Grilled Chicken Salad
Dinner: Jamie Oliver's Herb Butter Steaks with potatoes for FNCC
Gingerbread Upside Down Cake.

Lunch: Guy Fieri's Bacon Tomato Pasta for FNCC
Dinner:  London Broil on Salad greens

Lunch: Gnocchi alla Sorrentina (Mario Batali) for FNCC...looking forward to this...it's my favorite thing to order here in Naples.
Dinner: Restaraunt style orange chicken with rice and spring rolls.
It's my birthday (actually it's Wednesday but my husband is gone for the evening) so for my cake I'm making a Blackout Cake like I used to get all the time in New Orleans.

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce before we go to the base tree lighting and caroling.

Emeril's Apple Cider Marinated Pork Spare Ribs for FNCC
Giada DeLaurentis' Macaroni and cheese for FNCC

Join us at Org Junkie for more posts today!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

As a kid, cauliflower was on my list of "oh heck no I'm not eating that" foods along with the usual liver, brussels sprouts and lima beans.  It's not until recently that I've come to love the creamy, buttery flavor.  This healthy soup really showcases that.  I'm glad I planned it for today, as it's particularly rainy and chilly.


Recipe courtesy of:
Fatfree Vegan Kitchen

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

I used a blender to get this silky smooth, but a food processor or hand blender might also work. Be careful not to burn yourself opening and pouring from the blender because the mixture can be super-heated.

1 cauliflower (I used an orange one)
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 cups fat-free vegetable broth
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
4 drops truffle oil (optional, but good)
Smoked Spanish paprika, to garnish

Preheat oven to 400. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place them into a large baking dish sprayed with oil. Lightly spray the top of the cauliflower with oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the onion wedges and garlic on top of the cauliflower, spray lightly with olive oil, and return to the oven. Cook for 20-25 more minutes, stirring once halfway through.

While the vegetables are roasting, heat the vegetable broth and add the chopped potato. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Cook covered on very low until cauliflower is ready.

Add the cauliflower mixture to the broth. Puree it, in batches, in the blender until very smooth. Return it to the pot and add the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in a few drops of truffle oil, if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve, sprinkled with smoked Spanish paprika.

Makes 4 large servings. Per serving: 45 Calories (kcal); trace Total Fat; (5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 11mg Sodium; 2g Fiber. Weight Watchers Core / 1 Flex Point

Chocolate Cherry Macaroons: How to clean out a cabinet before moving

I have a problem:  Too much stuff in the pantry that I want to use up and not enough time to do so in.  Big problem, eh.  Thanks for the sympathy...no really, stop laughing.

Anyway, armed with this mission and a killer sweet tooth, I whipped these bad boys up today and they are fabulous and really, the easiest cookies that you could imagine.  No formal recipe, just follow along the steps, won't you?

Start with a standard bag of sweetened coconut.

Add some chopped dried cherries. About 1/2 to 3/4 a cup.

Then chop up some chocolate chips, or use the mini chips, which I didn't have, and hey, I'm cleaning out the cabinet so it works.   About half a cup as well...or more or less, whatever gets you going.

Here's where the magic happens:  Add one small can of sweetened condensed milk...

And a teaspoon of vanilla.  That's all of the ingredients.  See, I told you.  Simple.

Mix well.

Drop onto cookie sheet greased or sprayed with Pam.  This is important if you want to be able to remove more than half of the cookie from the sheet.  Trust me here.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees to get them as golden as you like.  Try not to eat them all straight off of the pan.

Spicy Peanut Shrimp Stir Fry

This recipe has been a regular in our home for months now, and I'm so used to making it that I can't believe that I haven't posted it yet.  It's not a traditional chinese dish...if that is what you are looking for, run far!  It will, however, satisfy a craving, especially if you are living in Italy with little access to Chinese food.  We love this on angel hair pasta....also great on rice.  Increase the pepper flakes for more spice.


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 20 oz bag frozen shrimp
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, divided.
Saute the onion, celery, bell pepper and carrot until tender and remove from pan.  Sautee the zucchini until tender then set aside in same bowl with the other veggies.  Mix first  8 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.  Saute shrimp until pink and translucent.  Add veggies to the shrimp, then pour over sauce and half of the, reduce heat to low and mix well until thick.  Serve over rice or angel hair and top with remaining chopped peanuts.  Serves 6.

Cherry-Walnut Banana Bread

Here's a delicious little recipe for a different twist on banana bread. Bursting with dried cherries and walnuts, it's a crowd pleaser. I made this into muffins since that's how my family rolls..

Cherry-Walnut Banana Bread

adapted from a recipe found at the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

3 over-ripe bananas
2 tbsp. lemon juice
4 ounces unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup dark sugar (brown sugar, if you have it; I used demerara sugar)
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dried cherries (optional, though leaving them out will require a name change)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (ditto)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas and add the lemon juice, apple sauce, and sugar. Stir well to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, and stir just until the mixture is well-combined.

Spray or wipe a loaf pan with oil (I used non-stick spray on a silicon loaf pan). Spread the mixture evenly in the pan and bake until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

Note: Fat-free quickbreads like this really benefit from being allowed to cool completely, which is why they often taste better the next day. The crust, which is chewier than breads with oil, will gather moisture and softness over time. Ignore the tempting aroma; pleasure delayed will be pleasure multiplied.