December 29, 2011

Marinated Shrimp

Marinated Shrimp
Serves around 4 as a heavy appetizer, 7 as a light appetizer

1 pound shrimp, steamed, peeled and deveined
2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced, juice of the other (around 3 tablespoons)
1 can jumbo black olives, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper

Place shrimp, sliced lemon & onions, black olives and bay leaf in a gallon sized zip lock bag.  Combine the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard & salt and pepper in a small bowl and lightly whisk together.  Poor the liquid over the shrimp and then sprinkle with parsley.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours - 24 even better, turning the bag over every several hours.
Serve the shrimp in a bowl and then place that bowl inside another bowl filled with ice (fancy cooler). Don't forget to have appetizer picks and a small dish to dispose of them unless you are providing forks with your appetizers (I am very careful with these because of animals and children - I always use a thicker plastic pick rather than wooden toothpicks).

December 14, 2011

Slow Cooked Apples & Pork Tenderloin

The next couple of days can be the most hectic of the year. When we are home I find myself looking for healthy, tasty, & easy dinners. This dish will have your house smelling like the holidays with only a tiny bit of effort!  This will also be on our New Year's Day menu - Enjoy!!!  
Slow Cooked Apples & Pork Tenderloin
Slow Cooked Apples & Pork Tenderloin
Serves 4

1 1 & 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, washed and patted dry
1 onion, chopped
2 pink lady apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped***
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs of olive oil
1/2 cup Chardonnay
3/4 cup Maple Syrup
3 Tbs Apple juice
1 Cinnamon stick
3 Sprigs of thyme
Salt & Pepper

Spray the surface of your crock pot with cooking spray & turn to low setting.
Melt butter in a black iron skillet over medium high heat and then add olive oil . Salt and pepper the tenderloin.  Once the butter and oil start to slightly smoke, sear the tenderloin for a minute or two per side, just slightly brown & add to your crock pot.  Add the apples and onions to the skillet and allow them to lightly soften, for about 5 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients, except for thyme & cinnamon stick, to the skillet and allow it to come to a slight boil.  Cover the pork tenderloin with the apple sauce, add the thyme & cinnamon stick, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Remove cinnamon stick and thyme sprigs.  Serve over rice or egg noodles & Enjoy!

***If you can't find pink ladies - Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious or Jonagold will do too

Speaking of keeping it easy we have started a new tradition of  vacationing for Thanksgiving.  Our favorite spot is at a lodge on a lake in Georgia surrounded by a gorgeous pine forest. Below are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving scenes from this year.
When a Gingerbread House just won't do...
The Lodge ready for the Holidays
Beautiful walkways all around the Lodge
A Christmas tree Clark Griswold would approve of
Thanksgiving Carving Stations & Iron Chef Competition
Caviar Station
The Raw Bar
The Cheese Display
Dessert anyone??? (This is only 1/4 of the selection)
The end of our Thanksgiving Meal
A long walk after our meal - I had to stop by my favorite herb garden
We took Taddy to see the Linger Longer Express
Champagne cocktails at sunset to end the day - this is the best picture I could get with a 25 pound Scottie in my lap

December 8, 2011

Fiesta Soup

We had this waiting for us when we got back from getting Christmas Trees last Friday night. Easy & yummy!!!

Fiesta Soup
Serves 4-6

1 onion, chopped
1 lb ground sirloin
2 cups frozen corn
1 can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 14 1/2 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 3.8 oz can of sliced black olives
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
The following spices***:
   1 tablespoon chili powder
   1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
   1/4 teaspoon onion powder
   1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
   1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
   1/2 teaspoon paprika
   1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste
Tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese & pickled jalapenos for serving

In your dutch oven add a touch of oil at medium high heat, add onions and allow to soften for about 10 minutes. Add sirloin and allow it to brown. 
Now your cooking preference:
Crock pot method - add everything to your crock pot, stir well & set to low for 8 hours or high 4
Stove top method - add everything to your dutch oven (were you would have prepped your onions and sirloin if you were going this route), bring to a simmer and stir every now and then for an hour.

Serve over crushed tortilla chips and top with cheese, sour cream & jalapenos - and of course more chips.

*** You could always use the prepackaged pouches of "Taco Seasoning" if you wanted.  I tend to find it is much more economical to make my own out of my own spice cabinet.

Just because they are so darn cute - here are Walter & Weezie in their Christmas Sweaters (of course Walter has already torn his apart - thank goodness Jonathan got this shot before that happened!)

December 6, 2011

Classic Spinach Dip

Classic Spinach Dip

1 cup olive oil mayonnaise
16 oz light sour cream
1 lemon, zest from the whole & juice from at least half
10 oz frozen spinach, cook as directed and completely squeezed of water
1 carrot, grated & chopped
4 green onions, finely diced
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
Several dashes of hot sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt & Pepper
Crackers & Carrot chips for serving

In a large mixing bowl add all ingredients.  Test for taste - personally I like a lot of black pepper with a pinch of salt.  Transfer your dip to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, overnight even better. (Test taste after a couple hours - you may need to add a touch more lemon juice). Serve in smaller quantities and refill as needed from remaining dip in the fridge.
I stored ours in mason jars - I am Southern.  What a great gift this would be!
I think I am on a retro kick - from poppyseed chicken to spinach dip, it does suit my mood lately.
I even took our Christmas decorations to this level....
My grandmother ordered this tree in 1962, I still have the original packing.  Today it is set up in our den.
Last but not least I must show our proud Scottie, Tad.  He accompanied us on our Thanksgiving trip & never have I seen people gush the way they did over him.  Honestly I think the other guests just missed their pets.

November 28, 2011

Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls
Makes approximately 2 & 1/2 dozen

1 lb country sausage
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Bisquick
Couple dashes of hot sauce
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped (1/4 tsp if dried)
Sprinkle of hot pepper flakes, salt & pepper
Spicy brown mustard for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all ingredients, except mustard, together.  I put everything in the bowl of my stand mixture and combined using the dough hook (scrapping the sides several time to make sure the bisquick was incorporated).  Roll into golf ball sized portions.  Bake for 20 - 25 on a greased cookie sheet until brown - watch closely at the 20 minute mark. Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes and serve with mustard on the side.

November 15, 2011

Rustic Ricotta & Spinach Lasagna

Ricotta & Spinach Lasagna
To me this would be perfect for an after Thanksgiving / Tree Trimming Sunday Supper. Of course in our crazy house I decided to fix it on a hectic Monday evening.  Serve with a salad and crusty French bread. Hope you enjoy!!!

Rustic Ricotta & Spinach Lasagna
Serves 6

1 package of no boil lasagna noodles
1 bag baby spinach, about 6 cups, torn
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
Salt & Pepper
2 15oz containers part skim ricotta, you will use about 1 & 1/2 containers
12 slices of mozzarella cheese
Olive Oil
2 cups of Rustic Bechamel (recipe below)
Crushed red pepper flakes
Shredded Parmesan for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Saute your onion in a touch of olive oil for about 15 minutes, reduce the heat and add the torn spinach.  Allow spinach to wilt, stirring constantly.  Once spinach has wilted add the can of tomatoes -  juice and all.  Season with a good touch of salt & pepper and set aside.
Line your baking dish with a layer of noodles, they will overlap slightly & break them if needed to fit snug.  Using a slotted spoon spread 1/2 of  your spinach mixture on the noodles, follow with an even coating of the bechamel, followed by a generous layer of ricotta (I dolloped on the ricotta and then smoothed to form a layer with a spatula), sprinkle with salt & pepper, and add a layer of sliced mozzarella. Repeat with one more layer of noodles, remaining spinach, bechamel, ricotta, S&P & sliced cheese.  Sprinkle top with crushed red pepper flakes.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes and the cover for remaining 20.  Check to see that fork can pass through the noodles with no resistance. Tent with foil for 10 minutes.  Serve each piece with a sprinkle of Parmesan & Enjoy!

Rustic Bechamel Sauce
Yields 2 cups

2 cups fat free 1/2 & 1/2
Several stems of thyme & parsley
Dash of black pepper & red pepper flakes
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 Tbs butter
1 1/2 Tbs flour

Over medium heat bring your cream, herbs, black & red pepper, & veggies to a light simmer, stirring often.  Remove from the heat and allow it to completely cool. Once it has cooled remove the veggies & herb stalks.  Set aside.
Melt butter and then whisk in flour. Continue to whisk until you have formed a golden brown roux, about a minute or two.  Now slowly add the infused cream to your roux - whisking the entire time.  Allow the sauce to come to a simmer and thicken & then remove from the heat.

November 8, 2011

Bacon & Corn Dip

This is the time of year for appetizers.  Whether it be football games or holiday parties I am always looking something easy to put together to share.  This is a good one - hope you enjoy!
Bacon & Corn Dip

8 oz light cream cheese, softened
8 oz light sour cream
1 can sweet, whole kernel corn
5 slices crispy turkey bacon, crumbled
1 tbs olive oil mayo
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
3 good dashes of hot sauce
Tortilla chips or Wheat Thins

Allow cream cheese to soften, let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes.  Mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, salt & pepper, garlic and hot sauce.  Fold in the corn and crispy bacon (I microwave for 3 minutes) & refrigerate for 6 hours.  Serve with chips or crackers.

The longer this sits the more the flavors melt together.  I typically like to prep the night before.

November 4, 2011

Classic Poppyseed Chicken

Classic Poppyseed Chicken
Serves 4

1 Rotisserie chicken, shredded
8 oz light sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup sherry
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbs poppy seeds
3/4 sleeve Ritz crackers
3 Tbs melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together your chicken, sour cream, soup, salt & pepper, poppy seeds & sherry. Transfer into a shallow casserole dish and top with crushed crackers and then pour butter over the top.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes and serve over rice or egg noodles.

This really is a wonderful comfort food & an east Sunday Supper.  Enjoy!

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


October 28, 2011

Simple Lamb Chops

Simple Lamb Chops
Serves 2

1 rack of lamb, about 1&1/2 lbs
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs Chimichurri sauce
Grey salt & black pepper

Let lamb sit out for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature.  To make this even easier I went ahead and sliced the rack into chops. Salt and pepper both sides of your chops.
In a heavy pan warm your oil & chimichurri sauce over medium high heat, make sure to coat the entire surface of your pan with this mixture.  When pan is slightly smoking add the chops.  Cook for about 10 -15 minutes, turning every few minutes.  Remove & place on your serving tray and cover with tin foil and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Serve & enjoy.

Here is a link to a chimichurri sauce recipe if you don't have access to a quality premade one.  
I serve my lamb with a horseradish sauce which is 1 tsp prepared horseradish to 3 Tbs light sour cream, serve cold.  This Goat Cheese Gratin  would compliment the lamb deliciously.

October 25, 2011

Chicken & White Bean Chili

Chicken & White Bean Chili
Serves at least 6 

3 Cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 Onion, chopped
1 Red bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced 
2 Cans chopped green chilies 
1 pound dried Great Northern Beans, rinsed 
10 cups chicken broth 
1 Jalapeno, sliced 
1 1/2 Tbs Ground Cumin 
1 1/2 Tbs Chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper 
Grey salt & white pepper, to taste 
1 cup fat free 1/2 & 1/2 
2 Tbs cornmeal 
1 cup of grated pepper jack, plus more for garnish
Sour Cream  & Salsa for garnish 
Tortilla chips

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute onions, red pepper and garlic until soft. Add chopped green chilies with juice & dried bean rinsed beans. Pour 8 cups of the chicken broth into the Dutch oven. Add jalapenos & season with salt, pepper, chili powder & cumin. Place lid on pot and reduce heat to low & cook for an hour
Add 3 cups of cooked chicken & remaining 2 cups of chicken broth. Cover and cook for another hour.
Mix milk with cornmeal and pour into the chili. Cook for another ten minutes & allow it to thicken. Right before serving add cayenne pepper and Pepper Jack cheese and stir.
Serve chili in a bowl over crushed tortilla chips topped with sour cream, extra cheese and touch of salsa.
Hope you Enjoy!

Just to share
My Halloween Mantel
Louise, Our Halloween Princess

October 19, 2011

Spicy Sausage & White Beans

 In honor of "Extra Virgin's" season two's premiere tonight on the Cooking Channel I give you my take on one of Debi & Gabriele's favorites.  So yummy!  Don't you just love them!

Spicy Sausage & White Beans
Adapted from Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos's Recipe
Serves 4

2 Tbs olive oil
8 Turkey sausage links
2 tsp minced garlic
1 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered 
1 Anaheim chili pepper, chopped
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1/3 of a red pepper, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 (15-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed 
3 bay leaves
2 handfuls fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Warm the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausages and brown (about 8 minutes). Plate the sausages and reserve.

Add the garlic, onion & peppers to the Dutch oven, and saute until golden brown. Next stir in the chopped tomatoes and and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan, allowing the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes.  The tomatoes, onions and peppers will have turned into a thick sauce.

Add the browned sausages (and any juice left on the plate), beans, and bay leaves to your sauce. Stir well and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Add the chopped parsley before serving.

October 7, 2011

Tomato Jam for a Simple Chicken Dinner

 I had never even heard of Tomato Jam until our CSA provided it last week for our fruit share.  Amazingly tasty! Here is a link to a recipe from the NY Times Food Dining & Wine section. Ideas for its use included serving with cheese, pasta, or topping on chicken or fish.  We tried out the chicken option this weekend.  Easily pan sheared some chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper.  Topped with a bit of tomato jam and a dash of red pepper flakes and baked at 375 for 10 minutes and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese right before serving.  Absolutely delicious.  If you happen to see some at your local farmers' market - definitely pick some up, or test out the recipe linked above.

October 5, 2011

The Things I Love...

Tonight I am very thankful for the blessings in my life & finally realized why I have some of the obsessions I have...
1. A favorite Vacation spot

2. My Mother's Garden
3. Wonderful quirky adventures
4. The Huxtables (explains my love of  Le Creuset)
5. My Loves
My Jonathan

JK being goofy with our "twins" - Walter & Louise

Louise posing in her puppy preciousness
Regal Beauregard - Always the Prince
Always - the Knight Boys

My Nephew & Godson - Sid

To be so innocent   

Bobby's Smoked Chile & Sweet Potato Gratin

The staple in our Fall CSA has been sweet potatoes. We love them!  It sounds crazy but the locally grown, organic do taste so much better than the grocery store variety.  We enjoy sweet potatoes all year long, but they do seem to be synonymous with Fall.   This was dish inspired by Bobby's Flay's Thanksgiving Smoked Chile Scalloped Sweet Potatoes - Enjoy!

Bobby's Smoked Chile & Sweet Potato Gratin
Serves 4

3 sweet potatoes, medium sized
1 1/2 cups fat free 1/2 & 1/2
1 Chipolte chili with adobe sauce, chili minced & 2 tsp adobe sauce
Salt & Pepper
1/4 White cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Peel & slice the potatoes thinly.  Whisk together the chili, sauce and cream. 
In a 9 x9 dish layer the potatoes, top with drizzle of cream and repeat until potatoes are gone (it could be anywhere from 8 to 10 layers) ending with drizzle of cream.  Season with salt and pepper every 4 layers.
Cover with foil & bake for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove foil and bake for another hour.  After 30 minutes remove from oven and with a spatula press down on the potatoes to ensure cream covering the top of the potatoes.  When done baking sprinkle with cheese and cover for ten minutes.  Serve & Enjoy!

A mandoline or food processor slicing feature comes in handy with this dish.  Next time I am going to top it with crumbled blue cheese and pecans.

October 2, 2011

Roasted Poblano Pepper & Chicken Chowder

Fresh Poblano chili peppers from our CSA share inspired this dish.  It is an easy weeknight, one pot Fall Supper.  I hope you enjoy!
Roasted Poblano Peppers, Chicken & Corn Chowder
Serves 6

1 pound red new potatoes, diced in to 1/2 inch cubes
4 Poblano peppers
1 Tbs butter
4 slices of turkey bacon, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 tsp minced jalapeno
1 can sweet corn kernels, drained
1 can cream style corn
4 cups chicken broth, reduced sodium
1 cup fat free 1/2 & 1/2
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp each of salt of pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Mexican shredded cheese, touch of parsley & crusty French bread to serve

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
In 5 qt Dutch oven cover your potatoes in water with a touch of salt.  Bring to a boil, cook until fork tender, drain and set aside to cool.
Place peppers on a foil baking sheet & roast at 500 degrees for 6 minutes per side.  Remove from oven and place in a paper sack (lunch style will work), close tightly & allow peppers to steam for 20 minutes.
Take your Dutch oven back over medium heat and melt butter.  Add the bacon  & cook until crisp, about 10 minutes.  Now add onion, garlic, celery, & jalapenos and stir frequently until the vegetables have softened but careful not to let garlic burn. Once the onion is looking translucent add the chili powder, salt, pepper, & chicken broth & bring to a boil for about 15 minutes (make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so that all bits are incorporated).
Once peppers have steamed you can easily peel their skin,  remove seeds and roughly chop.  After chowder has boiled for 15 minutes turn heat down and add potatoes, chicken, 1/2 & 1/2, roasted poblano peppers, red pepper flakes & thyme.  Stir together well and bring to a simmer.  Allow chowder to simmer for 35-40 minutes.
Serve with a touch of cheese & parsley.  If you feel  it is  too spicy for some a teaspoon or two of light sour cream can tone down to heat.  A crusty French bread is perfect for dipping, and makes the hearty chowder a complete meal.  Hope you enjoy!

*** Time saving tip - the pre-chopped onions (1/2 cup), celery (1/2 cup) and garlic (2 tsp) can be a big help.  You can always roast the peppers & shred the chicken the night before for an even easier prep.

September 27, 2011

Butcher's Pasta

This is absolutely delicious.  I hope you enjoy!!!

Butcher's Pasta
Serves 8
Adapted from October 2010 Food & Wine

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 ozs of thick pancetta, diced
1 lb ground sirloin
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup fat free 1/2 & 1/2
1 cup Chardonnay
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt & pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
16 ozs fusilli pasta
Fresh grated Parmesan for topping

Warm olive oil in dutch oven over medium high heat, add the red pepper flakes allowing it to infuse the oil for 1 minute.  Add the vegetables and garlic & allow them to soften for about 10 minutes.  Toss in pancetta and  ground sirloin, cook until beef has browned and broken up, season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low and add the tomato paste. Toss everything well and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally (everything will become a rich rust color).  Add the 1/2 & 1/2, wine and broth and allow sauce to thicken over low heat for about and hour & 1/2, stirring occasionally.  Cook pasta as directed & add to the sauce & mix well.  Serve with sprinkle of cheese & enjoy!

This would be perfect for a family gathering.  I am thinking the weekend after Thanksgiving or for a Tree Trimming dinner.  I will warn you that it is amazing cold too.

September 23, 2011

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup
Serves 4
3 onions, halved & thinly sliced
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp minced thyme, divided
1 cup red wine
3 cups low sodium beef broth
1/4 cup sherry
4 slices wheat bread
4 thick slices Swiss cheese

In a crock pot add the onions and butter and cook on high for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Add the flour, pepper, salt & 1/2 the thyme to the onions and mix well.  Pour in wine and beef broth and cook for 7-8 hours on low or 3 1/2 -4 hours on high.  Add the sherry and bring the soup back to the high setting for 15 minutes.
Cut the bread to fit the top of your serving bowls.   If your serving bowls are oven ready - ladle the soup in, top with sliced bread and then top with cheese.  Place in a oven preheated to 425 degrees until cheese is nice and bubbly.  If not using oven safe bowls, place your bread slices with cheese in a 425 degree oven, allow your cheese to melt & then serve your soup with the cheese toast floating on top.  Drizzle with the remaining thyme & serve.