Donna Hay's Smoky Grilled Chicken with Barbecued Corn Salad

What a perfect summer salad. Ripe, sweet tomatoes, juicy chicken, sweet corn and a bit of a tang from a red wine and oil dressing. I cooked my chicken in the morning while it was still cool outside, saving myself from having a hot oven on during the hottest part of the day.

The original recipe called for thin pork steaks, so if you prefer pork, use it instead.

Smoky Grilled Chicken with Barbecued Corn Salad

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons oregano leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
4 corn cobs (Next time around I might use a can of corn to save time)
4 tomatoes (I like small sun ripened tomatoes, still on the vine)
1 bag of mixed salad greens (Mine was a mix of salad greens, broccoli, and carrots)
1/4 cup of red vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil for the salad

1. Place the chicken, paprika, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.

2. Heat a large char-grill pan (or use the barbecue) over high heat. Char-grill or barbecue the corn for 10 - 12 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked. Allow to cool and strip the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.

3. Char-grill the chicken until cooked through. Slice the chicken into strips.

4. Mix the corn, tomato and salad mix. Combine the red wine vinegar and extra olive oil and spoon over to serve. (I used a lot less vinegar as I was feeding people with persnickety food tastes)

Adapted from a Donna Hay magazine recipe (Issue 37).

Donna Hay's Chili and Lemon Chicken Burgers

by Divine Domesticity on May 20th, 2008

I mentioned a while back that I was going to be making a few dinner recipes from the Donna Hay magazine (Issue 37). I was pleasantly surprised to find that 4 out of 5 dinners were AWESOME, and one odd man out that was a dud.

Sadly, the following is the only dish I photographed, but I plan on making all of them again this summer, so I will update with pictures later on. Enjoy!

A juicy piece of chicken breast marinated in chili flakes, lemon, and garlic is fresh and totally delicious. To make it extra special, brush the buns with butter or olive oil and grill in a skillet until lightly browned. The result is a healthy burger that is perfect for summer: light, fresh, and juicy.

The key to chicken is to not overcook it. Once it is too dry, the flavor is totally gone.

Chili and Lemon Chicken Burgers
Serves 4

1 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 c. lemon juice (fresh)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c. olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
4 burger buns, halved
4 chicken breast fillets, trimmed and butterflied (I didn't butter fly mine, you could pound them a bit thinner if your fillets are too thick)
4 iceburg lettuce leaves
mayonnaise, to serve

1. Place the chili flakes, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine. Place the chicken in a separate bowl and pour over half the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat a char-grill pan or barbecue over high heat. (I used a saute pan) Brush the burger bun halves with some of the reserved marinade and char-grill or barbecue for 1-2 minutes or until toasted. Set aside. (I used regular butter as I had forgotten to set aside half of the marinade) Char-grill or barbecue the chicken for 4 minutes each side, or until cooked through. Top the buns with the lettuce, mayonnaise and chicken and spoon over remaining marinade to serve.

Recipe from Donna Hay magazine, Issue 37.

Homemade Baby Food Tips

A blogging friend emailed me wondering what types of homemade baby food I was making for Violet. Instead of just sending a recipe, I thought it was important to read up on how to go about making baby food, and how to store it, heat it, etc. The following is information I found from a great cookbook, First Meals by Annabell Karmel.

I typed this out by hand from the book, so please forgive any slight punctuation/spelling mistakes.

PS - This has got to be one of my all time favorite pictures of Violet. Her resemblance to a giant tomato is startling. She is about a week old in this picture, and just under 10 pounds. hehe!

PPS - Consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about what foods are appropriate or how to make homemade baby food. I did this at length and I am currently following the pediatrician's guidelines of what to feed Violet.

Homemade Baby Food Tips

Cooking Techniques:
- steaming helps preserve the taste and nutrient content of fresh food. The water-soluble vitamins B and C can be destroyed by overcooking: broccoli loses 60% of its vitamin c boiled, 20% steamed
- boiling can destroy nutrients, so ingredients should be cooked until just tender in the minimum amount of water. Be careful not to overcook.
-microwaving allows fast cooking of fruits and veggies (and later fish) with minimal nutrient loss. When fresh ingredients are cooked rapidly at full power, most of the nutrients are retained.
- baking is a nutrient retaining, labor saving cooking method. potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash can be washed, pricked with a fork, and baked until tender. The flesh can then be scooped out and mashed.

Blending Purees:
1. cook small pieces of veggies or fruit until tender. Drain, retaining a tablespoon or two of the cooking liquid, then pour into the food processor bowl.
2. process the food until a smooth, even-textured puree is produced. If necessary, add a little of the cooking water to thin the mixture, then pulse briefly.
3. the final texture of the puree should be completely smooth. It can be thinned with cooled boiled water for young babies. (Ali's note: I just use regular water, haven't had any problems - just don't use bottled mineral water b/c it has a high sodium content)

Freezing and Reheating:
1. allow the freshly cooked puree to cool to room temp then spoon it into clean ice cube trays. transfer trays to the freezer.
2. when the puree has frozen solid, take the trays from the freezer and quickly push out the cubes onto a clean plate. (Ali's note: if they wont come out, dip the bottom of the tray in hot water for a few seconds and try again)
3. set aside the required amount of cubes and heat in a pan or in the microwave until piping hot.
4. transfer the remaining puree portions to a freezer bag, seal tightly, then label and date the contents. return to freezer.

Reheating Rules:
it is safe to thaw purees in a microwave or saucepan, as long as the food is then heated all the way through until piping hot. be careful using the microwave since it can heat food unevenly, creating hot spots, but leaving other areas of the food cold.Let the puree cool after heating and test it before giving it to baby. it is dangerous to reheat purees more than once, so only reheat one portion at a time so you aren't wasting any food.

Freezer Storage Times:

Food and Time
breast milk - 1 month
veggie purees - 6 months
fruit purees - 6 months
purees w/milk - 2 months

Food Safety Tips:
- only reheat once, and make sure it is reheated at a high temp to kill off the bacteria
- do not keep baby's half eaten food for a later meal, because saliva introduced from your baby's spoon will breed bacteria quickly
- always date food stored in the freezer so that food that is past its prime, or that hs even deteriorated and become harmful, is never eaten
- don't leave food unrefrigerated since bacteria multiply rapidly at room temp. cool food quickly if it is to be refrigerated or frozen.
- don't add salt, sugar or honey to baby food. (salt strains the kidneys, sugar and honey encourage a sweet tooth and honey carries a slight risk of botulism infection)

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

by Divine Domesticity on May 17th, 2008

As to be expected, this was easy and delicious! I opted to use cool whip instead of cream cheese and sugar, because my husband hates cream cheese. (Sacrilege!) I would recommend trying out light cool whip to cut a few calories.

I messed this one up. I thought I had a round pizza pan to bake the brownies on, but turns out I didn't. I tried using a large baking sheet but that in turn made the brownies too thin and they burned. Doh!

I've also added in my directions to foil the pan. That is optional, but I always do that with brownies so they don't stick.

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

6-8 servings

1 (20-ounce) box fudge brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 tablespoons sugar
2 banana, sliced
1 cup fresh strawberries sliced
Maraschino cherries
1 cup chopped nuts
Chocolate syrup, for drizzling
Whipped cream
Mint, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Foil line and Grease a 15-inch pizza pan.

2. Prepare brownie mix according to directions on box. Pour onto prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and cool.

3. Beat cream cheese while adding pineapple and sugar together in a bowl. Spread mixture over brownie crust. Arrange banana, strawberry slices, marshmallows, and cherries over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with nuts and coconut. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Add whipped cream on top and mint for garnish. To serve, slice as you would a pizza and enjoy!

Recipe from The FoodNetwork and Paula Deen Online.

Lasagna Sandwiches

The daily recipe feature has been put on the back burner for the past week, with all the contest shenanigans going on. All of the cookbook winners have been notified, so if you did not hear from me by email, so sorry, you did not win. Better luck next time, as they say.

Anywho, back to the food!

Made these crunchy, gooey, cheesy, saucy sandwiches a while back. So much easier than making homemade lasagna, but you still get the same tastes. I don't know if I'll ever make traditional lasagna again, they were so easy. If lasagna is your thing and you are a fanatic about it, these aren't going to bowl you over. If you are like me and would rather save time and labor, try them out.

After assembling, brush the sandwiches with a little melted butter, and place on a foil lined baking sheet. You want to weigh the sandwiches down while they bake, so place a foil lined pan on top of them, and place a heavy baking dish on the top. I used a 9x13" glass baking dish.

Lasagna Sandwiches
4 servings

4 fresh hoagie or long sandwich rolls
12 thin slices of Canadian bacon
8 slice mozzarella cheese
pizza sauce
sour cream mix, recipe follows
Butter for grilling

1. To create the sandwich, spread sour cream mix on one slice of bread and the other slice with the pizza sauce. Layer cheese and Canadian bacon on initial slice and cover with the second slice of bread. Butter the outside of the sandwich and bake until hot and crunchy. I don't remember exactly what temperature and how long I baked mine, but try out 375-f degrees for about 7-10 minutes, checking half way to see if they are done.

Sour Cream Mix

1/2 cup sour cream
1 T minced fresh onion
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper

1. Combine all ingredients, mixing well and let set for 1/2 hour in the refrigerator to mesh the flavors.

Adapted from a FoodNetwork recipe.

Why I am a stay at home mom.

Before I get into this, how about we get something clear? I am only giving my opinion, and I'm not judging you if your opinion is different than mine. We can be adults about this, and realize we may not feel the same way re: the subject. I honestly do NOT want to see comments from women or men who feel like they need to justify to me, of all people, why they don't stay at home. That is purely your business. Share if you want to - but please don't feel like you need to justify your actions.

I did not get much sleep at all last night. On my mind was a conversation I had with my sis in law about how we, and lots of other women, try to deal with suddenly 'staying at home' (kids or no kids) and how often we become depressed when there isn't much to do.

When I got married a few years ago, I decided that I'd had enough of my semi-crappy job and wanted to stay at home. No, I didn't have any kids. I'm not sure what I thought it would be like. Quaint, I'm sure.

The reality was I was a terrible housekeeper. My kitchen was, as a rule, atrocious, and I felt I had much better things to do online than to keep my house spick and span. It makes me shudder to think back on all the dirty dishes that sat around for days, the dirty laundry that stayed in a pile for, let's be honest, weeks. I did feel depressed and I had no self motivation to take care of myself or my apartment.

In my own way, I was learning a very good example of what NOT to do.

We've been married three years and now with the baby thrown into the equation.

Would I ever go back to work?

I would guess that for some women with actual careers, the idea of going back to work is tempting. For me, the idea of going back to an office, or e-gads, RETAIL, is just not a temptation in the least. I say that with love for the ladies who do work in those settings, of course. I've worked enough retail to last me a good long while, thank you very much.

I have an extended family member that suggests checking out the mommy play groups in the area for something to do. Can I admit that deep down I'd rather spend the afternoon cleaning the toilet than go to a mommy group function? Am I horrible for feeling that way? Am I totally sick and twisted that I feel content to get my adult interaction through blogging and my internet friends, or real life friends, who I keep up with by email?

I've never been a person who needed a gaggle of girls hanging around to feel validated. And I'm not saying that is what mommy groups ARE or are FOR, but I'm just saying that I've always felt like a bit of a loner, of an anti-joiner, and I truly feel content to skip out on all the groups. I don't feel like less of a person, woman, or mom, if I have no desire to go out and make a bunch of new mommy friends.

Basically, it all comes down to this. If I had to, I would do it. If my husband was hurt and could not work, I would go back to work. Short of that, when I think of dropping my baby off at a daycare, and I think of all that I would be missing out on during the day -- the laughs, the singing, the silliness, the 'tude, everything good and bad, I just can't justify leaving her.

Short of staying with a grandma every day, I don't feel like a daycare employee would give her the love, the attention, the care that I can. No one knows her like I do. No one knows her noises like I do. The noises that mean I'm bored, or I'm hungry, I need love, or I've got a poop in my drawers. Nobody can tend to her like I can.

I truly think it is my privilege to stay at home and take care of her. Often by the time my husband gets home from work and takes over, the baby is cranky and tired and full of fuss. I cannot imagine what it would be like to miss the whole rest of the day when she is a little angel baby! It hurts me just to imagine that.

The goings on.

Happy Monday peeps!

I hope all the moms out there had a fun Mother's Day. What did your family do to celebrate?

I made some Ricotta Pancakes with Banana-Pecan Syrup which were delicious. No one ate them but me. What-ev. More for me then.

Other than that, just some cleaning, some game playing, some (okay, a lot) eating of pizza, and much hanging out with my baby child. It was a great weekend. PS - I really enjoy the $5 Pizza Mia's from Pizza Hut for a quick weekend meal. Delicious.

Last week I made all Donna Hay recipes for dinner. Two were great, one was a flop. I'll be doing write up for them this week. Sadly, only took a picture of one, so you will just have to take my word on them looking delicious. I am going to make 3 more Donna Hay dinner recipes this week as well. I hope they are winners!

Like I mentioned previously, I'm gonna be having a bunch of contests at Divine Domesticity this week. Please check back tomorrow morning for contest #1!! I love all you peepers and I show my love by passing on free crap--err, stuff!

So come on, leave me a comment and tell me what your fam did this weekend. I love hearing from you gals and guys.

P.S. I'm really jazzed up on coffee this morning, and I sense I'm blathering on like an idiot. Forgives!

Daily Recipe - Wannabe Portuguese Egg Tarts

by Divine Domesticity on May 7th, 2008

Wannabe Portuguese Egg Tarts
Makes 6 Tarts

1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 c. white sugar
3 egg yolks
1 package frozen puff pastry shells (6 shells come to a typical package)

1.Bake puff pastry shells at indicated temperature (about 400 degrees F), but only for 10 minutes. While baking, prepare the custard. In a saucepan, combine the milk, cornstarch, vanilla and sugar. Stirring constantly, bring up to a medium heat until thickened. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk 1/2 of milk mixture into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg yolk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly.

2.After 10 minutes, take puff pastry shells out of the oven and cut off the tops of the middle part of the shell. Fill with custard to the brim of each shell. Return to oven for approximately 10 minutes. (At this point I turned off the oven and let them sit for about 10 more minutes, I would recommend doing this) Serve and enjoy!


Caption Reads: "Molded Beef Ring - Meat set in gelatin and waiting in the refrigerator brings peace of mind when company's coming."

From a random cookbook my MIL gave me.


Does anyone buy the Penzey's Spice cooking magazine? Part of the charm of them, least I thought, was that they had horrendous food photography. Bad lighting, props from the 70s, and old fashioned, yummy food.

A few months back I made a trip into one of their stores and saw that they have now updated the entire magazine. It might was well be an issue of bon appetit. I was so disappointed.

After much consideration...

I've decided to take down most of V's monthly newsletters and start her her very own private blog.

If I know you, and you would like to get set up to view it, email me (divinedomesticity[at]gmail[dot]com) or leave a comment with your email address. If I don't know you, you probably won't get an invite to view it.

I will post the occasional pic of her here at Divine Domesticity -- don't worry! I just don't want tons and tons of pictures and videos at this public site. Gotta watch out for me bebe and all. I hope you understand.

Daily Recipe - Strawberry (Freezer) Jam

by Divine Domesticity on May 5th, 2008

One of my favorite treats ever. So simple but the flavor is amazing. You won’t buy store bought strawberry jam ever again.

Strawberry Freezer Jam
Makes Five - 8 oz. Jars

4 cups mashed strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 packet freezer jam pectin

1. In a large bowl, crush strawberries until only small pieces remain and mixture is quite liquid. This may take a few minutes.

2. In a small bowl, mix Pectin and sugar together until incorporated. Add to mashed strawberries. Stir for 3 minutes.

3. Ladle into clean jam jars, leaving 1/2″ space at the top. Cap and let sit for 30 minutes. Store in your freezer until ready to use, or transfer to fridge and eat!

Jam keeps several weeks in the fridge or up to one year in the freezer.

Daily Recipe - Roasted Sausages, Peppers, Potatoes, and Onions

by Divine Domesticity on May 4th, 2008

I goofed on this recipe and cut my veggies way too small. This caused them to cook too fast and start to burn. Stick to the recipe and make sure they are in the 1" range.

Roasted Sausages, Peppers, Potatoes, and Onions

Serves 4, Supposedly. See my notes.

1 lb. potatoes (I would recommend 2 lbs. 1lb of potatoes was only two red potatoes! I should have known to make more.), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 green or red bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. Italian-style pork sausages (I used Johnsonville Mild Italian sausages)

1. Preheat the oven to 450-f degrees.

2. Spread the vegetables in a single layer in one or more large shallow roasting pans; do not crowd them, or they will not brown. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.

3. Roast the vegetables, stirring once or twice, for 45 minutes.

4. Pierce each sausage in two or three places with a fork. (I cut them in half lengthwise, then in half across the other direction. I did this to speed up the cooking process since my veggies were already burning!) Place the sausages on top of the vegetables. Bake for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the sausages and vegetables are cooked through. Serve hot.

From The Sopranos Family Cookbook

I know I'm going crazy with the carousel widgets -- but Mama has to earn a few bucks any way she can! Please check out my top Italian Cookbook pics:

Daily Recipe - Pound Cake with Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce

by Divine Domesticity on May 3rd, 2008

Pound Cake with Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce
Makes several servings

4 slices pound cake, 1-inch thick
1 pint ice cream, any flavor (I used Oreo)
Chocolate syrup (recommended: Hershey brand)

1. Top pound cake slices with a generous scoop of softened vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle liberally with chocolate syrup.

Recipe from Rachael Ray

Daily Recipe - Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

by Divine Domesticity on May 2nd, 2008

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Makes about 12 muffins

3 very ripe bananas
2 tbsp soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup peanut butter and chocolate chip swirl chips

1.Preheat oven to 375°/190°C

2.Mash bananas in a bowl and add rest of the ingredients. Stir just until blended. It seems as if there is not enough liquid but don’t be fooled. The very ripe bananas add all the moisture needed. Mixing the ingredients together with a fork for 2-3 minutes is all you need to create the batter.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400°F/200°C, in center of oven

Daily Recipe - Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

by Divine Domesticity on May 1st, 2008

So delicious.

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup
Makes several servings

1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion (I omitted)
1 quart chicken broth
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I omitted the cream cheese and used a bit of milk and a splash of cream instead)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
ground cinnamon to taste (optional)
fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the squash halves cut side down in a baking dish. Bake 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Scoop the pulp from the skins. Discard skins.

2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion until tender.

3. In a blender or food processor, blend the squash pulp, onion, broth, brown sugar, cream cheese, pepper, and cinnamon until smooth. This may be done in several batches.

4. Transfer the soup to a pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Garnish with parsley, and serve warm.

I made this a long time ago and am not sure where I got the recipe.