Monday, March 29, 2010

Dinner and a Movie

Have you ever had a random memory pop into your head that made you smile? That happened to me recently. One evening, during my college years, my friend and I decided we should watch a movie. Not just any movie; we chose Casablanca!

I know there where many movie nights, with many friends in college, but for some reason, that evening really stands out in my mind. Maybe, (although I didn't know it then), it is because I was spending time with my future husband. By the way, he insists that Casablanca is not a movie, but a film.

Casablanca, of course, is the largest city in Morocco. And although you probably wouldn't find it at Rick's Cafe, Moroccan cuisine is one of the most intriguing cuisines around. This is because Morocco has been greatly influenced by other cultures.

One aspect of Moroccan cooking that particularly interests me is the tajine. A tajine is a special pot used for slow cooking foods.

Since I do not yet own a tagine, the following recipe is perfect for me. I found the original recipe here on RecipeZaar. It has excellent reviews plus it is cooked in a crock-pot!

Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea and Apricot Tagine
(This is how I made it, original recipe halved and substitute spice mixture used)
Serves 4 easily and if you're lucky you might even have leftovers, but don't count on it!

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, chopped into large chunks,
(I also pounded it with my fist to tenderize a little)
1/2 tbsp. plain flour
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pushed through a garlic press
1-1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 inch ginger root, finely chopped
3 oz. dried apricots, quartered
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 rounded tablespoon of tomato paste
1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes and juice
1-14 oz. can chickpeas, drained
(I only used 3/4 of the can)
1 1/2 tbsp. honey
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
(optional, but I used it)
salt and black pepper to taste
handful of fresh cilantro for garnish

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5-10 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the chicken stock to the pan then slowly add the flour, stirring well until the four is fully incorporated and without lumps. Next Add the honey, tomato paste, herbs, spices, ginger, salt & pepper, and tomatoes stirring after each addition.

Transfer this mixture to your crockpot. Add the chicken, chickpeas, dried apricots and carrots, and stir again to make sure it is thoroughly mixed. You may feel the need to add a little extra water or chicken stock, but don't do more than about 1/8 cup.

Cook in your slow cooker on high for about 3 to 4 hours low for 8 hours. You know your crock pot better than me, so decide how long to cook based on your own model.

Tear the cilantro leaves and sprinkle over the dish to garnish.

Serve with Couscous

Couscous might be the easiest thing you will ever cook. You can buy it in a box at your favorite grocery store. Just follow the directions on the package. You can substitute the water for chicken stock you might have leftover from the tagine.

This might be the best dish I've ever made!

This is seriously, one DELICIOUS meal! And if you're wondering, yes, we did eat and then watch Casablanca. We had our friends Cory and Michelle over for dinner and a movie. We went semi-Moroccan and ate around our coffee table, though we did not sit on the floor.

Michelle made a yummy rice pudding with heavenly pineapple puree. Check out her blog: Food for Thought and Tummy to get her recipe!

We had a great evening with friends and a classic film! Thanks Michelle for helping out with dinner and for your lovely photography!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dining at the Dinner Bell

There are two things you should know about my in-laws: 1) They have a knack for sniffing out unique, Mom & Pop, and/or hole-in-the-wall kind of restaurants. 2) They aren't fazed by a one or two hour drive to dine somewhere they really like. Which brings me to the subject of today's post: Dinner Bell in Sweetwater, Tennessee.

If you're in Tennessee driving I-75 between Chattanooga and Knoxville, and you happen to be hungry, I suggest taking exit 62. There you'll find Dinner Bell with it's country cooking and general store. While they do have a menu with many dining options and breakfast served all day, we chose to dive into the buffet. The buffet, which includes a salad and dessert bar, costs $7.29 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., from 4:00 p.m. until closing and all day Sunday it is $8.79. Here are a few dishes from the buffet:

Here's a turkey leg, and yes, that is a dinner plate. That was one big bird!

(If you're really into turkey legs, you may want to call ahead to make sure they are on the buffet that day.)


Hominy, my two year old couldn't get enough!

Here's my plate: Salisbury steak, green beans, mashed potatoes, and what's that?

Fried Corn on the Cob

Take one bite of this and the first thing you'll notice is how sweet the corn is. After the second bite, the heat from the batter mellows the sweet of the corn, and somehow this really works!

The batter has a unique flavor so I asked what was in it, but they couldn't tell us. Only the owner knows the recipe and whips it up just to put fried corn on the buffet, which is usually on Saturday and one other day during the week.

*Thanks, Leigh, for helping out in the photo department!


Because I appreciate my readers, I wanted to pick up a little something from Dinner Bells' General Store to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment here telling me what your favorite home cooked dish is and you'll be entered in a drawing to win Tennessee Cookbook by Pearlie B. Scott. Deadline to comment is 9:00 a.m. (Eastern Time, USA) Monday, March 29th. {You must leave me a way to contact you, either through facebook, or your blogger account.}

Congratulations to Shannon who won the cookbook! Your number was drawn with the Random Number Generator at RANDOM.ORG. True Random Number Generator Min: 1 Max: 9 Result: 7 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Dinner Bell
Restaurant and General Store
576 Oakland
Sweetwater, TN 37874

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Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Here is an easy recipe to use up day old rolls, croissants, and/or stale bread. It's almost worth making rolls just to let them go stale! My favorite bread to use is leftover rolls from O'Charley's. There's no use letting them go stale and throwing them out when there is Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding to be had!

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
Use your leftover rolls from O'Charley's/favorite restaurant rolls!

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups whole milk (or 2 1/2 c.heavy cream)
12 rolls or croissants (slightly stale is good)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a food processor, mixer or blender, combine butter and sugar; blend well. Add cinnamon and vanilla and continue to blend.

While the machine is running, add eggs to the mixture. Turn off the machine and scrape down the sides. Add the milk and blend once more.

Lightly butter a baking dish. Break up the bread into 1-inch pieces and add to the dish. Gently mix in the chocolate chips to evenly distribute throughout the bread. Pour the wet mixture over the bread pieces and allow to soak for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly push down the top pieces of bread to allow to soak up wet mixture.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the custard is set but still moist. Allow to cool, then dive in!

Click here for the Printable Recipe at Tasty Kitchen.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

From Pantry to Potluck

Today's recipe is made from ingredients that may possibly already be in your pantry. It's easy to put together, doesn't take long to make, and if there is something you don't fancy in this dish, it is easy to make substitutions. Oh, and did I mention this recipe comes from Paula Deen? This dish is served in her Lady & Sons restaurant. So next time you're looking for a one dish meal or something to take to a potluck, give this a try!

Can you see how creamy this is? YUM!

Chicken and Rice Casserole
serves 6 to 8
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 medium onion, diced and sautéed
One 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
Two 14 1/2 ounce cans French green beans, rinsed and drained
One 4 ounce can pimentos, rinsed and drained
One 10 3/4 ounce can condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup mayonnaise
One 6 ounce box Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice, cooked
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 3 quart casserole. Bake for 25 minutes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring Fever!

Since so many people I know are suffering from Spring Fever, I thought I'd show off a few of Tricia Wilson's beautiful illustrations for St. Patrick's Day and Easter.

Here is a cool retro styled design for Shamrock Day!

And how cute are these little bunny stickers? Perfect for hiding in an Easter Egg!

Have some Easter greetings to send? These adorable stamps are sure to bring a smile before the envelope is opened!

Egg Hunt No.6 stamp
Egg Hunt No.6 by candystore
Shop for custom postage at

Need something snazzy to wear on Easter Sunday? Here you go Dad...

Carrots tie
Carrots by candystore
Design neck ties at zazzle

I just love this mug!! Too cute!!

You can see more of Tricia's work at her Zazzle stores:

tricia-rennea art
The Candy Store!

Or visit her websites, and