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Day 8 - Boise, Idaho

We no sooner stuck our thumbs out when we got to the main highway in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a car stopped to give us a ride. Oh, my God! It was Ruth Buzzi. She asked where we were going and I told her Boise, Idaho. And would you believe it, she was headed there too!

She started the conversation off with, "Did you know Idaho was the 43rd state in the USA and it became a state on July 3, 1890. Did you also know that the state insect is a Monarch Butterfly?"

I told her no, but I knew that we had a subscriber, Amber, who raises them as a hobby.

In the car, we laughed and joked and told stories. But the main thing we talked about is that I told her we had met before. It was in Washington, DC. when I had my TV show called Casa E Cucina. She remembered our meeting at the National Italian American Dinner Gala Banquet and that amazed me because although it was a brief encounter, she remembered because we laughed about some of the things.

She looked in the review mirror and saw Ziggy was sleeping. I told her that was Ziggys favorite thing to do besides eat. I also told her we were visiting all 50 states and that the trip would be documented in my ezine.

Then I told her that one of my subscribers, Marie from Buffalo, husbands' Uncle was a good friend of hers. He was in the entertainment business and had worked with her years ago. She remembered him with geat admiration and said she still corresponds with him.

As we neared Boise, Idaho, I asked her how she felt about being an American and she said, "Proud. But you know what? As big as America is, everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows you. That doesn't make this country so big now, does it? As an entertainer, I am recognized whereever I go. Sometimes it's tough, but most of the time, it is fun. You gonna eat a potato while you're in Boise?"

"You bet," I said. "We're going to eat potatos and see if we can track down JEANNE who always types in caps."

Ruth Buzzi dropped us off and we said our goodbyes. She is one funny gal! Ziggy reached in her bag and put her hat on. I asked, "What hat do you have for Idaho Ziggy?"

"She meowed back, "Why, a Mr. Potato head hat! What do you think?!"

As were about to enter the restaurant, a gang of anti-potato protestors stopped me and Ziggy and tried to grab her potato head hat. She called them a bunch of old fuddy duddy spuds and ran inside. I thought we were going to have to get to the core of the potato. But the potato police arrived just in time.

We headed for this restaurant and had lunch before we headed down to the Snake River for some Kayaking. We ate some Idaho Big Potatoes Stuffed with Chicken Verde and Fresh Tomato Sauce. Here's the recipe.

Idaho Big Potatoes Stuffed with
Chicken Verde and Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

2 large Idaho Russet Potatoes each
1 cup Pulled roasted chicken thigh meat
1/2 cup Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Ground cumin
Kosher salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp Butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and bake in the oven for about one hour or until fork tender. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow to cool completely.

In a food processor combine the cream cheese and the cilantro and process till smooth.
Place the mixture in a mixing bowl and combine with the chicken, cayenne, cumin and cinnamon and season to taste with the salt and pepper.

With a paring knife peel the potatoes and with a corer hollow out the potato lengthwise by running it down to, but not through the other side of the potato. This will take 3 to 4 insertions before the potato is hollowed out enough to stuff.

Stuff the chicken verde filling into the hollowed out potatoes. Butter the potatoes and the bottom of a baking dish and place the potatoes back in the oven for 30 minutes.

For the sauce:

3 Ripe red tomatoes each
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp Roasted garlic puree
1/2 cup White wine
2 fresh Basil leaves
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp Tomato paste
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Core and rough chop the tomatoes. In a sauté pan heat the oil over medium high heat, blanch the garlic for thirty seconds then add the tomatoes and the crushed red peppers.

Allow to cook for 4 to 5 minutes or till the tomatoes are soft then add the wine and allow to cook for an additional two minutes. Place the ingredients in a blender or food processor; add the basil leaves and tomato paste and blend till smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

To present: Place the potatoes on a cutting board and with a very sharp knife carve each potato into six one-inch thick medallions. On four warm entrée plates ladle 2 ounces of the fresh tomato sauce on each. Fan out 3 of the stuffed “big potato” medallions on each plate.

Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and/or basil.

Eat Famous Potatoes!

_______________________________

After lunch, we caught the bus down to the Snake River. Ziggy had to go kayaking. I waited for her on the bank and snapped this pic of her just before she flipped over.

We're spending the weekend kayaking on the Snake River all the way up to Kennewick, Wa.. Then we're renting a car and taking a nice slow ride through the Cascade Mountains into Olympia. Then we're going to swing up to Seattle for some Starbucks coffee. Plus, we're going up the Seattle Space Needle. Before we left, we did try and locate JEANNE who always types in CAPS, but was unsuccessful. MAYBE NEXT TIME!

See ya Monday in Olympia, Washington :)

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