Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tropical Storm Cocktail

The weather outside may be frightful, but the cocktails inside are delightful.  I know, I know, I should keep my day job.  I could not resist as it was humming through my head.

The key to this cocktail is fresh pineapple juice.  Don't compromise the flavor of this cocktail by using canned pineapple juice. The small effort makes all the difference.

This makes a large size batch for guests if you want to share.  If not, just store it in your refrigerator for up to 3 days, and enjoy at your leisure.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Pineapple Juice
Puree 4 cups of 1"- cubes of peeled, cored ripe pineapple in a blender until smooth.  Strain through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth.

Tropical Storm Cocktail
Serves 8
Recipe from Bon Appetit

2 cups fresh pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup white rum
3/4 cup high-proof dark rum
3 tablespoons Campari

Place all ingredients in a pitcher.  Cover:  Chill for 4-12 hours.  Divide among ice-filled glasses.  Garnish with orange wedges and maraschino cherries.

Note: If you would prefer a frothy top to your cocktail.  Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add the cocktail mixture, and shake vigorously.  Pour into your glass.  Garnish.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Farm Chick at It's a Small Town Life

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dirt to Table Experience: Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

Would you have thought that you could roast and caramelize cauliflower to enjoy like a meaty steak?  I raised my eyebrow initially at the idea, but with half a dozen heads of fresh cauliflower from the garden, we were ready to take our weekend dinner path in a different direction.  I am not advocating that you replace your juicy steak with cauliflower steaks.  However, if you are looking for a fast, super fresh, absolutely delicious alternative...You have come to the right place.

By cutting a whole cauliflower into very thick slices you create an opportunity to experience this vegetable in a whole new way.

It goes from being a bland vegetable to being a dish that will rock your world. 
Did I mention that this dish has less than 200 calories?

Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
Recipe from Bon Appetit

1 large head of cauliflower
1/2 cup pitted oil-packed black olives, finely chopped
3 sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
3-1/2 tablespoons, olive oil, divided, plus more
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves
2 plum tomatoes, cored, quartered

Remove leaves and trim stem end of cauliflower, leaving core intact.  Place cauliflower core side down on a work surface.  Using a large knife, slice cauliflower into four 1/2" "steaks" from center of cauliflower (some florets will break loose; reserve).  Finely chop enough loose florets to measure 1/2 cup.  Transfer chopped florets to a small bowl and mix with olives, sun dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, parsley, and lemon juice.  Season relish with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven too 400 degrees F.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Working in 2 batches, cook cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 tablespoon oil to pan between batches.  Transfer steaks to a large rimmed baking sheet.  Reserve skillet.  Roast cauliflower until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, return skillet to medium-high heat and add garlic cloves and tomatoes, one cut side down.  Cook until tomatoes are browned; turn tomatoes over and transfer skillet to oven with cauliflower.  Roast garlic and tomatoes until tender, about 12 minutes.

Transfer garlic, tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon oil to a blender; puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Divide tomato sauce among plates.  Place1 cauliflower steak on each plate; spoon relish over.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Andy Wallack

Friday, December 16, 2011

Garden Kohlrabi and Shredded Carrot Salad

Kohlrabi tastes a lot like broccoli with a crisp texture like a turnip. I dare say its mild and almost sweet.

Kohlrabi is not a vegetable that I would have given even a glance at in the produce section or a farmer's market.  I would not even know what the heck do with it, if I did.

My dirt to table experiences have increased since recently discovering the pleasures and the agonies of organic gardening.  Since I prefer to experience the pleasures from gardening, which simply equates to PLANT what Will Grow!  By Golly kohlrabi grows without any Effort in the North Florida Fall garden, which means my garden has a plentiful supply of kohlrabi.

So let's discover kohlrabi together. I promise this won't be the last kohlrabi recipe as the garden is eagerly providing me with an abundant supply.

This cold kohlrabi salad looks like a cole slaw but it has a crisper texture with Asian flavors of sesame oil, ginger and soy sauce.

Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad
Serves approximately 4
Recipe from Messy Vegetarian Cook

2 kohl rabi
2 small carrots
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
 Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the kohlrabi into matchsticks sized pieces or shred with a grater (note: I used my grater attachment on my food processor).  Do the same with the carrot and combine in a large bowl before adding the chopped onion.

If possible, use a pestle and mortar to combine the sesame oil with the garlic and ginger.  When you achieve a nice even paste, add the sugar and other liquid ingredients.  This method is optional (Note:you can simply crush, mince and mince), but it is worthwhile as it really mixes the flavors well.

Add the liquid with the vegetables and stir until covered.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Diana Bauman- A Little Spain in Iowa

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

This is the time of year where we are scrambling for entertaining dishes that are easy to prepare and to serve guests.

This is how you improve on shrimp cocktail.  Roast the shrimp, don't boil and prepare a good spicy cocktail dipping sauce.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
Serves 6-8
Recipe from Ina Garten

For The Shrimp
2 pounds (12 to 15 count) shrimp
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce
1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on.  Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in one layer.  Roast for 8-10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through.  Set aside to cool.

For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco.  Serve as a dip with the shrimp.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Christo Gonzalez a/k/a Chez What?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake

Recently I posted what I refer to as my "indulge me" questions on my facebook page.  The question was, "If you could have only one dessert the rest of your life what would it be?"  Me?  I am going down with a fruit crumble of sorts and this cake is close enough to my heaven.  A friend responded warm arroz con leche (rice with milk a/k/a rice pudding).  I thought, "Wow, I am not the only one that goes nuts over a good rice pudding."  That would be my second choice.  I know you are thinking she is going down for "what?"  "Fruit crumble and rice pudding?"  Sure am.

This cake served up warm with vanilla ice cream is melt in your mouth delicious.

You can tell that we did not cut the cake into dainty slices but tore into it like people who wanted to eat cake.

Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake
Serves 6-8
Recipe from Ina Garten

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1-1/18 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.  With the mixer on medium, add 1-cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined.  On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate.  Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely.  Combine the remaining batter over the fruit, covering it completely.  Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter.  Bake for 55 minutes to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Elizabeth Stelling a/k/a Chef E

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fresh Whiskey Sours

Sunday posts I usually feel compelled to share a meal with you and save the cocktail posts closer to the weekend. Today I changed my mind. It's been a busy week for many of us, traveling, cooking, eating, eating some more, and eating again.  If your cooking groove has been spent for the week, kick-back, eat left-overs (if you have any left), leave the dishes for another day and enjoy a cocktail.

This recipe lacks the traditional sweet and sour mix.  Instead, the sweet and sour is a blend of fresh squeezed lemon and lime juices, with simple syrup.

Fresh Whiskey Sours
Makes 4
Recipe from Ina Garten

3/4 cup Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
2/3 cup sugar syrup (see below)
Maraschino cherries

Sugar Syrup
Put 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Chill throughly before using.

Combine the whiskey, lemon juice, lime juice and syrup.  Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and fill two-thirds full with the cocktail mixture.  Shake for 30 seconds and pour into glasses.  Add a maraschino cherry and serve ice cold.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving a wonderful holiday. 
I will be spending time with family and friends and will be back next week.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Craving Comfort Food? Meatloaf with Barbecue Glaze

Yesterday was one those very enjoyable days.  We spent time running errands at leisure, and playing in the dirt.  Our garden is rocking and we are excited.  I have eaten more fresh vegetables in the last week, than probably in three months.  Its proof that if you buy or grow fresh vegetables, you are going to eat more healthy.

By the evening, we were craving comfort and what better dish to prepare than a classic American comfort food-Meatloaf.  It can feed a crowd or just the two of you.   Last night it fed the two of us with plenty left over for next week's meatloaf sandwiches.

This meatloaf can be made ahead, shaped, wrapped in foil, and frozen for up to a month.  When ready, just thaw it out and bake as directed.

Meatloaf with Barbecue Glaze
Makes 2 mini loaves or 1 loaf pan
Recipe from Cuisine at Home

For the Meatloaf, Whisk:
2 Tbsp. milk
1 egg
1/3 cup crushed purchase, seasoned croutons

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. each diced carrot and celery, and chopped fresh parsley

5 oz. each ground chuck and ground pork (note * I used a total 1-1/2-lbs. and adjusted seasonings)
2 Tbsp. purchased barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper

For the Glaze, Whisk
2 Tbsp. purchased barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil; top with a wire rack.

For the meatloaf, whisk together milk and egg in a small bowl; add croutons and set aside.

Mince onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and 2 Tbsp. parsley in a food processor.

Combine crouton mixture, onion mixture, chuck, pork, 2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce, 1 Tbsp. Dijon, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Form mixture into two loaves; place on prepared rack and bake 15 minutes.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photos submitted by Anncoo's Journal 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

Baking challenges me. There I said it!  I enjoy using a recipe as a foundation and tinkering with ingredients and measurements, which is why I enjoy cooking more than baking.   Baking requires that I tinker less, and pay attention more, two things that are not my strong suit in cooking or otherwise.

This recipe provides a healthier version of a traditional pumpkin bread that is simple to prepare.

Baking with olive oil is a good alternative to baking with butter or other vegetable oils.   As an extra benefit extra-virgin olive oil has a high level of antioxidants, as well as vitamin E. The use of honey and brown sugar as opposed to granulated white sugar, is a nice alternative too.

This pumpkin bread is utterly delicious,

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread
Serves 8
Recipe from Ellie Krieger

Cooking spray
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
2 Tablespoons unsalted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350degrees F.  Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk both flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder,nutmeg, and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, oil, and honey until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with a large spoon just until evenly incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan smooth the top.  Tap the pan on the counter a few times to settle the batter.  Sprinkle the top with the pumpkin seeds (if using), pressing them down lightly.

Bake until the top is browned  and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes (if the bread begins to brown too much before it is fully baked, lay a piece of aluminum foil on top.) 

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then transfer the bread to a rack to cool completely before slicing.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Leland Palmer Cocktail

Looks like autumn, tastes like summer.

The Leland Palmer Cocktail
Makes 6
Recipe from Bon Appetit

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup hot water
3 cups freshly brewed jasmine tea, cooled
3/4 cup gin
3/4 cup *limoncello
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 cup chilled club soda
Ice cubes
6 lemon slices (for garnish)

Stir honey and 1/2 cup hot water in a small bowl until honey dissolves.  Cool completely.

Combine honey water; jasmine tea, gin, limoncello, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice in large pitcher.  Add club soda and stir to blend.

Full six 1-pint mason jars or 6 tall glasses with ice cubes.  Divide tea mixture among jars; top each with lemon slice.

Note *Limoncello, a lemon flavored liqueur, can be found at many supermarkets, Trader Joe's markets, and at liquor stores.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted Mr. Meatball

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lemon Chicken Breasts and Gifts from the Garden

Our first salad greens were taken from our garden this week. The greens required nothing more than a toss in a simple vinaigrette. I had forgotten how amazing fresh greens from your garden directly to your table can taste. 

We needed only a simple entree that would compliment our salad greens and decided baked lemon chicken breasts would be perfect.

Chicken breasts, baked in lemon, wine, oregano and garlic give chicken a great flavor.  We served it along side with cous-cous with pine nuts to help soak up the flavorful lemon juices.

Lemon Chicken Breasts
Serves 4
Recipe from Ina Garten

1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest ( 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6-8 ounces each)
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don't allow the garlic to turn brown.  Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt pour into a 9x12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place skin side up over the sauce.  Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.  Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned.  If the chicken is not browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bananas for Banana Bread

Too many overripe bananas, equals time for making banana bread.  Thought I was still on my banana baking game, until I managed to leave out by accident the sugar in the recipe.  I improvised and sliced it up to enjoy with a drizzle of honey.

Its probably a good thing that I don't have any more overripe bananas to fret over in my fruit basket.

This banana bread loaf takes just a few minutes to put together.  It's worth it.

Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Recipe adapted from The Andrews Inn and Garden Cottages

2 cups pre-sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 large or 4 small mashed bananas
3/4 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 9x5x2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil or cooking spray.  You may also use a muffin tin to make muffins.

In a medium-size bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt.  In a larger bowl, mix eggs, oil, buttermilk, and bananas.  Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients by hand until well mixed.  Fold in walnuts (optional).  Pour batter into loaf pan.  

Bake for about 50 minutes (25 minutes for muffins).  Place on rack to cool for 10 minutes before 
removing from pan.

Don't forget the sugar!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Ken Bowie- A Cook's Life

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fabulous Oven Fries with Herbs and Pecorino Cheese

Made with baking potatoes, tossed in olive oil and flavored with garlic, rosemary and freshly grated  cheese these oven fries emerge from the oven crisp, flavorful and delicious.

Fabulous Oven Fries
Serves 4
Recipe from Food and Wine

2 large baking potatoes, cut into 4-by-1/2-inch sticks
(*note-I used a Madeline)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon each of minced sage and rosemary
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (*note-I grated fresh parmesan)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees F.  In a large bowl, toss the potato sticks with the olive oil until evenly coated.  Spread the potato sticks on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake in the upper third of the oven, turning once or twice with a spatula until they are golden and crispy, about 30 minutes.

2.  Sprinkle the minced garlic and herbs over the fries.  Roast about 5 minutes longer, until the herbs are fragrant and the garlic is lightly browned.  Transfer the fries to a bowl and toss with the grated Pecorino Romano.  Season with salt and pepper.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Old-Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

My intentions are always good when it comes to using overripe bananas. Rarely do I manage to actually follow through on my romantic baking notions and I end-up discarding my bananas. This time I was on my game, and produced an absolutely delicious banana cake with a cream cheese frosting.

Old-Fashioned Banana Cake
Serves 8
Recipe from Ina Garten

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Walnut halves, optional

Preheat the oven to 35 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9x2-inch round cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix with bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on low speed until combined.  With the mixer still on low, add the oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, orange zest.  Mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Stir in the chopped walnuts.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely.

Spread the frosting thickly on the top of the cake and decorate with walnut halves.

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (1/2 pound)

Mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until just combined.  Don't whip!  Add the sugar and mix until smooth.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Tomatoes on the Vine

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autumn in the North Georgia Mountains

Almost every year we join our friends and rent a cabin together in the North Georgia Mountains.  This is our opportunity to take a break from the daily grind. There are no schedules, no deadlines to meet.  Routine is out the window. Nature is all that surrounds us and it forces us to slow down.

For a few days, I will be less connected to my internet devices and more connected to the people around me.

I don't have to mention it but there will be plenty of good food to enjoy, and plenty of cocktails to go around.

I will be back next week. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Krista Bjorn

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kentucky 95 cocktail

Did you know that the state of Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world's supply of Bourbon?  To be sold as bourbon it must be produced here in the United States.

In honor of the American spirit of bourbon, I raise my glass and share with you the Kentucky 95 cocktail a twist on the classic French 75.

Kentucky 95
Serves 1
Recipe from Bobby Flay

3/4-ounce good-quality bourbon
3/4-ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2-ounce fresh orange juice
3/4-ounce Simple Syrup 
Ice cubes
Champagne or other dry sparkling wine, chilled
Lemon twist, for serving

Combine the bourbon, lemon juice, orange juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with 6 ice cubes. Shake for 10 seconds before straining into a wineglass and topping with champagne and a lemon twist.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Susan from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Broccoli-Cheddar Pockets

During the week, we sling food.  It is a sad state of food affairs at my house Monday through Thursday.  I can hear the beep of the microwave as I type (sigh). 

I was pleased with myself, that these hot pockets could be made during the weekend, and then eaten for lunches, and as snacks after school in a grab n' go style just before we jump in the car for soccer practice.

Broccoli-Cheddar Pockets
Serves 4
Recipe from Food Network

Kosher salt
1-1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1-3/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 5-ounces)
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Vegetable oil, for brushing
All-purpose flour for dusting
1-11 ounce tube refrigerated French bread dough
1 large egg

1.  bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the broccoli and cook 1 minute.  Drain and rinse under cold water until cool; pat dry.  Mix the broccoli, cheddar, sour cream and chives in a bowl until combined, then squeeze the mixture together with your hands to make it compact.

2.  Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees F. and brush a baking sheet lightly with vegetable oil.  

3.  On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll out each piece into a 6x8-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Put one-quarter of the filling in the center of each dough rectangle, pressing it together.  Fold the 2 shorter sides of the dough over the filling, stretching the dough to cover,  Fold in 2 long sides of the dough to form a packet.  Pinch the edges to seal.

4.  Place the pocket seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet.  Beat the egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; brush the pockets with the egg wash.  Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Sam Hoffer

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Smoky Pork Chili with Black-Eyed Peas

If you don't have a favorite chili recipe or need a new recipe, then you have come to the right place.

This chili recipe requires a sofrito, a blend of aromatic vegetables and herbs.  The vegetables are slow roasted until they collapse and become very soft, then pureed. This becomes the flavor base of the chili.

The sofrito base along with the toasted chili peppers allow for this chili to explode with flavor.  The addition of  black-eyed peas helps to bring out the smokiness of this chili.

The chili is smoky and spicy. The heat of the chili does not overwhelm you, and allows the flavors to really be experienced with each bowl.

Smoky Pork Chili with Black-Eyed Peas
Serves 6
Recipe from Fine Cooking


For the Sofrito

6 plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 large or 3 medium jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, halved, cored, and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. dried oregano
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 dried ancho chiles
2 dried New Mexico chiles
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

For the Chili

2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2-1/2lbs. ground pork
1 Tbs. ground cumin
 1 tsp. chili powder
Kosher salt
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
4 cups fresh or thawed frozen black-eyed peas (or three 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
Sour cream, for serving
Thinly sliced scallions for serving


Make the Sofrito

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Put the tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, onion, bell pepper, vinegar, oil, oregano, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a 9x13-inch roasting pan and stir to combine.  Roast, stirring every 15 minutes and scraping the bottom of the pan, until collapsed and very soft, about 45 minutes.

While the vegetables roast,  heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot, 2 to3 minutes.  Put the ancho and New Mexico chiles in the pan and toast on both sides until blistered, 2 to 3 minutes.  Put the chiles in a medium bowl, cover with 2 cups warm water (if they rise to the top, weigh them down with a bowl), and soak until soft, about 20 minutes.  Drain in a fine sieve set over a bowl; reserve the soaking water.

Stem, seed and coarsely chop, the chiles.  Put them in a food processor with the chiptole chiles and roasted vegetables and puree until the mixture is completely smooth.  Set aside.

Make the Chili

heat the vegetable oil in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat.  Add the pork, cumin, chili powder, and 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. salt; cook, stirring , until the meat is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.  Add sofrito and stir until throughly combined.  Add the reserved chile water, chicken broth and fresh black-eyed peas.  Bring the chili to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the black-eyed peas are tender, about 45 minutes ( if you are using canned or frozen black-eyed peas, simmer the meat and broth for 30 minutes, add the peas, and continue to cook for 10 minutes longer).  Season to taste with salt.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and scallions sprinkled over the top.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Beverly Frankeny 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cocktail Thursday-Basil Lemon Drop

Something that is well done is always better than something well said.

Basil Lemon Drop
Makes 1 cocktail
Recipe from Cafe Firenze
1-1/2 oz Citrus Vodka
1 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Sweet and Sour
Fresh squeeze of lemon juice
4 Basil leaves

Take the basil leaves and cut them by hand, then place them in the mixing glass with 1/2 oz of Sweet and Sour.  Start muddling until the Sweet and Sour goes from yellow to bright green.  Then start pouring the ingredients following the recipe.  Shake vigorously, and serve in chilled orange-sugar rimmed glass.

Note: To prepare orange sugar mix sugar with a couple of drops of red and yellow food coloring.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Annie Haven

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Double Chocolate Tart With Black Pepper Ice Cream

A deep rich milk chocolate tart topped with a velvety ice cream that has a hint of cracked black pepper, and garnished with candied hazelnuts.

My friends this is what makes for a dramatically delicious dessert.

Double Chocolate Tart with Black Pepper Ice Cream
Serves 8
Recipe from Bon Appetit


Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
9 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Candied Hazelnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg white
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
6-1/2 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer; about 28 cookies), coarsely broken.
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
15 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Valrhona, Scharffen, berger, or Lindt), chopped
1-1/4 cups heavy cream

Special Equipment: a 9" diameter tart pan with removable bottom; ice cream maker


Ice Cream
Bring cream, milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt to a boil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar; remove from heat.  Whisk eggs yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl to blend; gradually whisk in hot milk mixture and return to saucepan.  Stir over low heat until custard thickens and your finger leaves a path on the back of a spoon when drawn across, about 6 minutes.  Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl of ice water; stir until cold.

Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  Transfer to a container, cover, and freeze.

Do ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead.

Candied Hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk sugar, egg white, and salt in a medium bowl just until bubbles form.  Stir in hazelnuts.  Spread out on prepared sheet.  Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until nuts are golden brown and caramelized, about 50 minutes.

Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead.  Store in airtight at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat tart pan with nonstick spray.  Finely grind cookies in a food processor.  Drizzle butter over; pulse until blended.  Press evenly onto bottom and up sides of pan.  Bake until firm, about 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Place chocolate in a medium bowl.  Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Pour over chocolate; stir until melted.  Pour filling over cooled crust.  Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Remove the tart pan side.  Cut tart into wedges, working quickly as tart will become gooey as it sits; place 1 piece on each plate.  Serve with a scoop of black pepper ice cream and garnish with candied hazelnuts.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Christo Gonzalez a/k/a Chez What? 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lemon Vegetable Soup with Cheese Ravioletti

Many of us have been experiencing the forces of Mother Nature.  An Earthquake on the East Coast, Hurricane Irene, followed by Tropical Storm Lee, and the most destructive has been the raging wildfires in Texas.

When it feels like it is all going to pot, soup is best.  A good bowl of soup has a way of putting the world back into perspective for at least a little while.

This recipe belongs to the Cooking Photographer  This is a simple and soulful soup.

Lemon Vegetable Soup with Cheese Ravioletti
Serves 4-5
Recipe from Cooking Photographer

1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 (14 ounce) cans vegetable or chicken broth
5 cups water
1 tablespoon dried dill
9-ounce package three cheese ravioletti (found with the refrigerated pasta)
1-1/2 cups frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
More olive oil and grated parmesan for serving

Take the lemon and shave the peel into one-inch strips with a knife or vegetable peeler, then squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice and seta side.

In a 5 quart or larger saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat until shiny.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery.  Add the wine and cook stirring occasionally until sweated and tender crisp.  About 5 minutes.

Add the broth, water, and lemon peel.  Heat until boiling over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  let simmer for 10 more minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add the ravioletti and cook for 4 minutes, then add the peas and cook another minute.

Take off the heat and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Spoon into bowls and top with parmesan and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Note: Don't eat the lemon zest pieces.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Siddy at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chicken Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

This is one BIG bad ass breakfast.

Homemade biscuits 

With fried chicken and smothered with sausage gravy.

Chicken Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
Serves 10
Recipe from Bon Appetit

Recipe for Biscuits

6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or lard
4 cups all-purpose flour plus more
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place butter and shortening in freezer for 10 minutes.

Blend 4 cups flour and next 5 ingredients in a food processor.  Add butter and shortening.  Pulse mixture until it resembles coarse meal, 20-25 pulses.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Gradually add buttermilk while tossing mixture with a fork (mixture will not be completely incorporated).  Knead in bowl with lightly floured hands just until dough forms, about 3 turns.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface.  Pat out dough until 1" thick.   Lift 1 side and fold it over.  Gently repeat 5 more times.  Roll dough to 3/4"-thick round.  Using a 3" biscuit cutter, cut biscuits from dough.  Gather scraps and repeat patting out and cutting biscuits for a total of 10 biscuits.

Place biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spaced 1"-2" apart.  Bake until golden brown and tester inserted horizontally comes out clean, 12-15 minutes.  Transfer biscuits to a wire rack; let cool slightly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: Can be made 8 hours ahead.  Let cool completely.  Store in airtight container.

Recipe for Fried Chicken

1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
3-1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1-3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided.
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
10 small boneless, skin on chicken thighs
Vegetable oil (for fying)
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
10 slices cheddar (optional)

Whisk buttermilk, dill. 1-1/2 tsp. salt. 1 tsp. pepper, and cayenne in a large bowl.  Add chicken: turn to coat.  Cover; chill at least 3 hours or overnight.

Pour vegetable oil in a large pot to a depth of 2".  Attach a deep-fry thermometer to side of pot.  Heat oil over medium heat until 350 degrees F.

Whisk 1-1/4 cups water with remaining 2 tsp. salt, remaining 3/4 tsp. pepper, flour, and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Drain chicken well: pat dry with paper towels.  Working in batches, dip chicken into batter.  Fry chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is crispy and golden brown and chicken is just cooked through, 9-12 minutes per batch.  Drain chicken on paper towels.

Recipe for Sausage Gravy

1/2 lb. breakfast sausage
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Cook sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat, breaking up into small pieces with the back of a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes; Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour; stir until pale yellow, about 2 minutes.  Gradually whisk in milk.  Bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat to medium; continue to whisk until thick, about 10 minutes.  Stir in drained sausage and red pepper flakes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: Can be made ahead 1 day ahead.  Let cool completely, cover, and chill.  Rewarm before serving.

Split biscuits in half; place 1 bottom half on each plate.  Top each with a cheese slice, if desired, then a chicken thigh.  Spoon Sausage Gravy over chicken.  Place biscuit top over.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Ton and Anneke Vanvliet

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tallahassee Cooking Club, August 2011

No recipes today.  Just photos to share with you the highlights from Cooking Club.  This month's theme was Tapas, Tapas and more Tapas.