Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Meaningful Mail"

So I received a post-card in the mail addressed to "Jennifer Fambito", and I had to chuckle..."Family" is the most important thing to me, and it is funny that when I read "Fambito", I quickly resorted to the copy-guy on Saturday Night Live and muttered to myself, "Fambito....Fambaroni...Fambarito...FAMBITO!"...and then I quickly realized that it resembled "family".  So feel free to call me "Jennifer Fambito" anytime so long as you are referring to me as family-oriented.  Upon closer look, however, I noticed that it was a post-card from the American Red Cross informing me that our donation to Haiti was received and acknowledged.  Little do those wonderful Red Cross members know that we also sent that additional $200.00 to our new friend Johanne's mother so that a newborn baby will have milk to drink.  So, we have contributed doubly to we pray that everyone can do the same and that God will just "double" the blessings on those affected by that horrible tragedy.  So much suffering goes on in this world, both locally and globally...if only every single able-minded person could realize that even the slightest bit of help can make a difference....this world would surely be a different and much better place.

So, here is a wonderful recipe that we enjoyed not too long ago, from the "Cooking With Paula Deen" magazine, July/August 2010 edition, titled "OVEN-FRIED POTATO CHIP-CRUSTED CHICKEN"...needless to say, it was heavenly, and I only wish that I could have fed it to the people who really need it.  Perhaps someday I will have that opportunity.  Until then, we will continue to contribute locally to the hungry from the costs of our cooking, and hopefully make some sort of difference in that realm.

1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (5 oz.) bag thin and crispy potato chips, finely crushed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place a cooling rack over baking sheet; spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a shallow dish, combine mustard and melted butter.  In a separate shallow dish, combine crushed potato chips, cheese, rosemary, and salt.

Brush chicken breasts with mustard mixture.  Dredge in potato chip mixture to coat.  Place on prepared cooling rack, and let stand for 20 minutes to set crust.

Bake for 35 to 50 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and cooked through.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Making a Difference

On a recent trip to a San Diego Marriott with my husband and children, I ran into a Marriott employee who I met and became friendly with on this summer's teaching travels.  His name is Paulo, and we had great conversations back in June about this blog project and how making a difference in the lives of others is so necessary!  He became a follower of this blog, and I haven't seen him since our initial meeting.  So, obviously when seeing him on this short visit to San Diego last week, I was so happy to introduce him to my family.  He is a great young man, who has a giving heart and who made a comment to me this last week that revealed how this project is small step at a time.  Paulo said to me, "You know, I have to tell you, that ever since meeting you, every time I have gone to McDonald's, I have bought a hamburger for a homeless person outside and thought of you."  I screeched, "Paulo - that is wonderful!!!  That is what it is all about!"  We both acknowledged how good it felt to feed someone in need.  Paulo, if you are reading, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so have shared your story with me and it has fueled my mission even more.

Here is a great summer recipe that I made the other day which was so fitting for an outdoor barbeque:  It is from the Food Network magazine, September 2010 issue.  It was so delicious!  It is called "Anne Burrell's Super-Zesty Potato Salad".

2 pounds red bliss potatoes

3 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 slices bacon, cut into lardons

1 red onion, diced

3 ribs celery, diced

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups homemade mayonnaise (recipe to follow)

1/2 cup Dijon mustard


Cut the potatoes in quarters and place in a large pot, add the garlic and cover the potatoes by about 2 inches with water. Season generously with salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, put 2 tablespoons olive oil into a saute pan, add the bacon and bring to a medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until it is brown and crispy. Remove from the heat and add the onions, celery and vinegar. Season with salt and reserve.

When the potatoes are fork tender, drain them from the water and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. While the potatoes are still hot add the bacon-onion mixture. Stir to incorporate. Add the Mayonnaise and stir to combine. TASTE for seasoning and stir in the mustard. Add more salt, if needed.

Homemade Mayonnaise:

*2 egg yolks

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups neutrally flavored oil (vegetable, canola, peanut)

Place the egg yolks in the bowl of the food processor and add the vinegar and mustard. Season with salt, to taste. Turn the machine on and VERY slowly start to drizzle in the oil. Drip, drip, drip until the mixture starts to look like mayonnaise, then a slow steady stream of oil can be added.

Cook's Note: If the mayonnaise is too thick add a few drops of water or if it is not thick enough, with the machine running, add a little more oil.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Homage to Haiti"

Today we mailed money to our friend Johanne, from Haiti, whom I recently met on a business trip to Chicago.  If you are following this blog, then you know her story.  She is currently living in Chicago with a host family so that she can attend school, and she is one of nine (9) children in her family from Haiti.  In our first conversation, Johanne informed me that she has a 16 year-old sister who is pregnant as a result of rape, and this sister is living with the remainder of Johanne's family in a small village in Haiti.  This unborn, innocent soul is scheduled to be born this August, and Johanne informed me that her mother was very scared about not being able to feed this baby.  Johanne's family lives in a small village, and they are very poor.  Well, I believe it to be no accident that we were assigned seats next to one another on this recent business trip.  My desire to help others with less than me, combined with the sole purpose of this blog project all just came together in perfect harmony.  If you notice the quote at the top of this blog: "Nourishing the hungry while feeding my family...", this story just couldn't have been scripted any better!  I was determined to send our next donation to this village in Haiti so that this baby at least had some nourishment from our efforts.  I was apprehensive about sending a money order directly to her mother, as I am unaware of how Customs or the Haitian government operates, and I feared that she might never see it.  I discussed this with Johanne, and she informed me that they have a family friend who is in Chicago who will be soon be traveling to Haiti to see Johanne's family.  This friend will be visiting Johanne soon in order to receive things to take to Johanne's mother when said friend goes to Haiti at the end of this month.  So, call it foolish, but we sent cash directly to Johanne to be given to her friend to deliver to her mother.  The passing of the baton so to speak.  We had $160.00 in our "Donations Jar", and we added an additional $40.00 so that we sent $200.00 in total.  Johanne's words:  "Oh, Jennifer, my mother is going to be sooooo happy -- she can at least have some peace because of beautiful person."  To which I replied, "It is my sincere pleasure to help in some small way, and you are actually helping me and my children by giving us this opportunity."  We agreed to talk soon, and I hung up the phone with such a complexity of wonderful is true that when you give, you are the one being blessed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Marvelous Mushroom Risotto"

We are back in action!  I have missed cooking and blogging so much while away on the road, or while being a "single mom" while my husband has had to be away on business travel.  I enjoy cooking for my husband so much because having "family dinners" is so important to me, and is essential to a healthy childhood for our children.

We have been collecting our donations for a while now, and this next donation is actually going to go to a village in Haiti.  I met a lovely young lady on a recent flight to Chicago whom is living with a host family here in the states while she attends school.  She is one of nine children, and comes from a village in Haiti.  She informed me that her sister is 16 (and pregnant as a result of a rape), and the sister is looking to give the child up for adoption so that she can attend school.  I made the announcement during my Chicago lecture asking if anyone was interested in adopting or knew of anyone that was...sure enough, a gentleman came up to me at the break asking for the information as his friend was very interested in adopting a baby from Haiti!  This is how God works...people helping people.  I am sending our monthly donation to my new friend's mother in Haiti because this grandchild is expected to be born later this month.  Any little bit can help.  I will be comforted knowing that there will be food or assistance provided for this child as a result of our donation. 

The blog's primary purpose for those that follow is to teach the importance of "giving" to my children, while enhancing their palates all the while.  Although the recipes have not been a "daily-making" lately, the lessons have been in full-throttle for Sophia and Giovanni.  Every chance I get, I introduce them to the opportunity of "choosing" generosity and compassion.  For instance, we were cleaning out their dresser drawers the other day, and I asked them what we should do with the clothes that they have outgrown, and almost in unison, they blurted, "Give 'em to the Village of Hope, Mama!"  Thank you, sweet Lord above, for sending your angels to be my children.  I hope you are proud of their loving hearts! 

Here is a wonderful recipe that I made the other night to accompany grilled chicken and steamed veggies...

4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 to 8 cups hot Chicken Stock
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.  In a large frying pan melt 2 Tablespoons butter with olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1/2 cup onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in thyme, rosemary, and parsley.  Add 1/2 cup wine and cook until wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

2.  Melt remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Cook remaining 1/2 cup onion until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add remaining 1 cup wine and cook over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, 4-5 minutes.  Add rice, salt, and pepper and stir to coat evenly, allowing wine to be absorbed.  Add 2 cups chicken stock, reduce heat to medium, and stir until stock is absorbed, 5-6 minutes.  Continue to add as much stock as needed, 1 cup at a time, stirring, until rice is creamy and tender but still firm in center.  Process should take 15-18 minutes from time you add first stock.  Stir in reserved mushrooms.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Pass remaining Parmesan cheese on the side.

Enjoy!  This was given thumbs-up all around!