Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dirt to Table Experience: Fresh Lemon-Herb Dressing in a Jar

Growing-up bottled salad dressings were the norm. Lucky for me, I was exposed early to basic vinegar and oil dressings made at home, and not in a bottle.   Why, would you purchase store bought?  Have you taken a look at a typical salad dressing label?  Basic vinaigrettes are a cinch to make and with a quick toss to fresh salad greens, makes for a beautiful salad.

I make endless varieties of  vinaigrettes depending on what I have on hand.  No matter what the flavor combination, the only stead fast rule is use 2 parts oil, to 1-part vinegar or citrus. Salt and pepper, and a bit of Dijon mustard.  You can add any additional fresh or dried herbs that you choose, blend it together to emulsify, and it is ready.

Citrus is in season and it serves as a flavorful fresh base to dressings (My Meyer lemon tree produced over 100 lemons this season).  The garden lettuce is rocking and salads are knocking this winter at my house.

Lemon-Herb Dressing
Makes 1-cup
Recipe from Everyday Food

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon 
Season with sea salt freshly ground black pepper

In a medium jar with a tight fitting lid, combine all the ingredients, and shake to combine.

To store, refrigerate, up to 5 days.

Quick ideas:
  • Use as a marinade for chicken or pork
  • Mix with warm boiled new potatoes
  • Drizzle over baked fish
  • Brush on crusty bread to grill or broil
  • Toss with steamed or grilled vegetables
  • Mash with feta for a quick crostini spread

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fast and Easy Jalapeño Cheddar Bread

 Got chili?  Here is a perfect companion bread.  A southwest style jalapeño and cheddar bread that works every time. 

Jalapeño Cheddar Bread
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease or spray an 8x3-inch loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Add the cheese and gently toss and stir until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine milk, oil and egg and whisk together.  Pour mixture into well in center of flour and stir mix together lightly with a wooden spoon.  Add peppers and stir just until dry ingredients are all combined.  The batter should be lumpy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and place in the oven.  Bake until top is golden brown, and springs back when touched in the center, about 45-50 minutes.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and eat warm!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lemon Brownies

If you think that brownies can only be chocolate......Then you are missing out something unique.  If you are willing to take a leap.........

Ta da......

Lemon Brownies!  Dense with a rocking clean citrus flavor.

 Lemon  Brownies
Makes 8x8 Pan
Recipe from Roz la bella vita- Via Pinterest


The Batter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Tart Lemon Glaze
1 rounded cup confectioners sugar
4 tablespoon lemon juice
8 teaspoons lemon zest

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease spray 8x8 baking dish with baking spray and set aside

2.  Zest and juice two lemons; set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and the softened butter until combined.

4.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined.  Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

5.  Pour into baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown around the edges, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before glazing.

6.  Sift the powdered sugar, add lemon zest and juice, and whisk together the ingredients.  Spread 1/2 the glaze over the brownies with a rubber spatula.  Let the glaze set.  Spread the remaining glaze over the bars, and let it sit.

7. Cut into bars and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Chef Christo Gonzalez

Friday, December 7, 2012

Canning Goodness: Simple Preserved Lemons

My Meyer lemon tree is laden and weighted down with lemon fruit.  Duly noted that the reason this citrus tree was planted was to ensure that we had plenty of fresh lemon juice for lemon drop cocktails Lemon Drop Martini Cocktails  Still, what does a girl do with a hundred plus lemons? First, she shares  with her family and friends.  She juices lemons and freezes the juice, and is forever looking for ways to use and preserve her bounty until the next season.

I borrowed my co-worker friend's cookbook Sizzling Skillets and other one-pot wonders by Emeril Lagassee.  While perusing the cookbook, I stumbled across a simple recipe for salted preserved lemons.  Now, I am plagued by my new found romantic notions of using preserved lemons in cooking. The use of preserved lemons is most noted in Moroccan cuisine.  There is other endless possibilities in roasted meats, soups, stews and baking too.

This a perfect way to preserve homegrown lemons flavor in a unique way.

Just quarter, add sea salt or kosher salt and press to close

The lemons never have to be refrigerated, and will stay for up to a year after maturing, and their flavors improves with age.

Simple Preserved Lemons
Makes 1-quart (Can be easily doubled, tripled, etc.)
Recipe from Emeril Lagassee

4 unwaxed lemons, preferably organic, well washed and dried
1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, or as needed

1.  Using a sharp knife, cut each lemon lengthwise almost through to the stem end, and then rotate the lemon 45 degrees and cut so that the lemon is almost quartered; the lemon should still be connected at one end, but you should be able to open it up, much like a flower.  Spoon 1 tablespoon of the salt into the center of each lemon and press to close.  Squeeze the lemons into a sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid (it's okay if you need to squeeze firmly to compact the lemons; they will soften over time) and add any salt that has fallen from the lemons to the jar.  Cover the jar and set aside in a cool, dark place for several days.

2.  Uncover the jar and press down on the lemons with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Add enough lemon juice to cover them completely-the amount of lemon juice will vary depending on their ripeness( I have had batches that where no additional lemon juice was necessary because the lemons themselves exuded so much juice).  Close the jar and once again set aside in a cool, dark place for 1 month, shaking the jar occasionally to distribute the salt and brine.

3.  When the lemons are ready, the peel and flesh will be very soft and you will see that the flesh easily peels away.  Discard the flesh, rinse the peel briefly under cool water, and use as needed.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Maureen Johnson

Friday, November 30, 2012

Berl C's Sassy Chicken Chili and A Friendly Cook Off

The blogosphere is an amazing place. The passion and the creativity of my fellow bloggers and virtual friends inspire me everyday.

We recently hosted a Chili Cook-off at our home. Why? It is a fun way to get your family and friends together to eat and have a good time.

The competition in these gatherings is stiff and I was bellying up to compete to make a respectable showing.  I did not have a personal chili recipe that I could call my own.  I needed a recipe!  My request was thrown out into the blogosphere.  Berl Childers came to my rescue and offered up his personal chili recipe.

This recipe is a creative off the traditional grid version of chili. The chicken breasts are marinated in tequila and seasoning including chillis, then grilled and shredded. The flavor in the chicken breasts really lend the flavor to the chili.  This is a great chili if you are looking for something more unique.

The votes have been submitted- Ready for the count!

The competition was rocking

And the winner is...Drum roll please...

A venison chili prepared by Gil Grignon

2nd place- A Texas style chili prepared by David Williams

And 3 rd Place a contemporary style chili prepared by Dianne Rodriguez

I came in a respectable fourth place. 

Berl C's Sassy Chicken Chili Recipe
Serves A Crowd
Recipe from Berl Childers

3 limes (including zest)
1/2 cup tequila
Red pepper flakes
Garlic, Dehydrated, Chopped
Chiles, Jalapeño Diced
3-16-ounce cans great northern beans, drained
2-lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (4-ounce) cans green chilies
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 cups chicken stock
3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
Sour cream
Chopped fresh green onions (scallions-freeze dried works well)

1.  Remove fat and tendons from chicken and place chicken breast in a container that can be covered.  Zest one of the limes and sprinkle the lime zest over the chicken breast.  Pour tequila over the chicken and 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Sprinkle red pepper flakes, garlic and chopped and diced jalapeno over the chicken and marinate for 3-hours.

2.  Heat olive oil in stock pot and add onion and sauté for about 10 minutes until translucent.  Add garlic, green chiles, cumin, cayenne pepper, and cloves and sauté for 10 minutes.

3.  Add beans and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for one minute while chicken is grilling.

4.  Grill the chicken breast for 5 minutes and pour remaining marinade over the chicken breast on the grill.  Turn the chicken breast and grill the second side for 4 minutes.  Remove the chicken breast from the grill and cut into small bite-sized pieces or shred.

5.  Add the chicken and 1 cup of cheese to the chili and stir until the cheese melts.  Ladle into bowls and serve with remaining cheese, chopped green onions, and sour cream.

Thanks Berl!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Michelle

Friday, November 23, 2012

Canning Goodness: Homemade Applesauce

We can get fresh apples from as far south as North Georgia. While spending time in North Georgia this year,  I took advantage of the opportunity to score a few bushels of apples from the local orchard.

Before departing, I also scored this apple peeler on Amazon.  You have to be prepared when you arrive home with "bleep" load of apples.  You can peel, core and slice apples all day with this nifty gadget.  My husband taking note of the purchase, just shakes his head.  My response is always the same "I could be in the bars" He laughs.

 Since starting our garden I have developed a deep respect and appreciation for preserving foods. 
I am learning how to home preserve foods and I do my best to keep it simple. Making applesauce is a good start, it is easy to prepare and preserve. 

Homemade Applesauce
Recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about eight pint (500 ml) jars or four quart (1 liter) jars

Note:  If you prefer a tart flavor use half tart and half sweet apples when making applesauce and reduce the quantity of sugar as desired.

12-lbs apples, peeled, cored, quartered, treated to prevent browning (note: you can submerge fruit in a 1/4 cup (50 ml) of lemon juice and 4 cups water (1 Liter)

3 cups (750 ml) granulated sugar (optional)
4  (60 ml) tablespoons lemon juice

1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.

2.  In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine apples with just enough water to prevent sticking.  Bring to a boil over medium high-heat.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 20 minutes, until apples are tender (time will depend upon the variety of apple and their maturity).  Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

3.  Working in batches, transfer apples to a food mill or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth.

4.  Return apple puree to saucepan.  Add sugar, if using, and lemon juice; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Maintain a gentle boil over low heat while filling jars.

5.  Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, laving 1/2-inch (1 cm) headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot applesauce.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

6.  Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to boil and process both pint (500 ml) and quart (1L) jars for 20 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.


Spiced Applesauce: In step 4, add 4 teaspoons (20 ml) ground spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice, to the sauce with the sugar and lemon juice.

Chunky Applesauce: In step 4, coarsely crush half of the cooked apples and puree the remainder.  Combine before adding the sugar.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Photo from Bing Images

Friday, November 16, 2012

Autumn Sangria

Introducing the party punch of Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Argentina.

Serve up a homemade sangria that reflects the autumn season with pears, apples, oranges and a hint cinnamon.  Be generous with the fruit it makes a difference.  With that said, be generous with the Cointreau, or triple sec it makes a difference too.

A definite crowd pleaser!

Autumn Sangria
Serves 6-8

3 apples
3 pears
3 clementines or other orange slices
2-3 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
6-ounces triple sec or Cointreau
2 bottles of red wine 
Fresh cherries

1.  Core and cube all fruit and put into a pitcher or carafe
2.  Add 2-3 cinnamon sticks and honey
3.  Add cherries
4. Add liquor and wine, stir and let sit to allow the flavors to come together.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted Krista Bjorn

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Roasted Fish With Green Sauce

I am not a fish lover (head hanging low, sigh) Worse, I was born and raised in South Florida where seafood is fresh and abundant.  Even worse, I like tuna fish sandwiches.   

Recognizing that I have missed out on an entire culinary experience I do my best in my middle-age to  say yes to opportunities to enjoy seafood.  I admit some experiences are better than others.  

My husband and I bellied up and prepared a real fish entrée at home.  Our motivation?  Our Spanish student that we are hosting this year.  Unlike his American host family, his family food culture is focused on seafood, and he has been missing it at our house.  In an effort to rectify the situation,  I sought advice from his mother, gathered a few friends, and fish was served.

We selected a variety of corvina.  This fish had a large flaked flesh which is pinkish when raw but cooks up white.  The flesh resembles snapper.  In South America Corvina is regarded as a prime table fish and is very popular for ceviche.

We did not follow the recipe exactly (No surprise there).  Instead of pan roasting, we grilled the fish with excellent results.  The corvina had a rich buttery taste, which was a genuine surprise for me.  The green sauce? That was just icing on the fish (laugh).

Roasted Fish with Green Sauce
Serves 12

2- (3-4 pounds each) red snapper, sea bass, sea trout or other preferred fish filets
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh rosemary sprigs and lemon slices for garnish
2 cups flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup drained capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

1. Line jelly-roll pan with foil.  Place fish on foil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the rosemary and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.   Place several lemon slices on top of filets.  Rub remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons rosemary over fish.  Cover; refrigerate up to 8-hours.

2.  Heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Remove fish from refrigerator; let stand 15 minutes.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Roast 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.  Transfer to serving platter; garnish with rosemary sprigs and lemons slices, if desired.

3.  Make Green Sauce: meanwhile chop parsley and capers in a food processor.  Add mustard, the 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the 1/8 teaspoon pepper, pulse.  With machine on, gradually add oil through teh feed tube until just blended.  Serve with Fish.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Vicki Tewes 
Thistlehair Farms

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Grilled Korean Marinated Flap Steaks and a Mountain View

Let me start this blog post right with my cabin view in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

The drive to the cabin almost requires medication to drive up and around the winding mountain roads.  There are moments when you seriously clutch your friend's hand, who is gritting her teeth and closing her eyes just like you.  Oh, but once there, it is another world.

We are three families who have known each other for over two decades.  We have grown-up together in our young adult lives, to having children who are young adults themselves.  We are a tight group.   Simply stated we are family.

Each year, our families come together and put our hectic, crazy daily lives behind us for a few days. We take the opportunity to take in the nature and beauty that surrounds us.  We laugh, eat, drink, stare at the scenery, hike on the trails and sleep with the windows open.  There is something about sleeping in cool crisp mountain air.

My husband prepared the main entree for a late lunch on our last day in the cabin.  He grilled beef steaks that were marinated in a Korean bulgogi marinade.   Bulgogi in Korean means "fire meat".  The marinade is a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, roasted sesame seeds, scallions and a touch of sugar.  If you enjoy Asian flavors this will be one of the best marinade recipes in your file.

The recipe calls for flank steak.  We used a flap steak which is similar to flank, and is often referred to as a "skirt steak" or as the French like to call it a "Bistro Steak".

Now, don't think for a second that I could be a mountain girl-NOT!  The idea of driving mountain roads, with regular frequency, causes me anxiety.  I am also afraid of bears, and these mountains have plenty of bears.  I don't need to casually meet up with a mama and her cubs at the mailbox.  While walking on the mountain trails I sing Carpenter lyrics and do my best to stay in the middle of the pack, not my usual slow wildebeast lolli-gagging that I do.  Still, for a few days each year living on mountain time gives me perspective, and an opportunity to chill.

Bulgogi Grilled Beef
Recipe Adapted from Asian Grills

2 pounds flank steak or other preferred beef cut

3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
5 tablespoons soy sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 to 4 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon crushed roasted sesame seeds

1.  Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, stirring to blend them well.  Add the meat and toss to coat the meat well with the marinade.  Cover the dish or place in a plastic freezer bag and refrigerate about 1-1/2 hours.  To prevent toughness, remove the meat from the refrigerator  30 minutes before grilling.

2.  Grill by direct method for about 10 minutes, or until done, turning once.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Fall Favorite: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

The soup and stew wagon has arrived.  Cold weather or not, it is my favorite season.  I am ready to fill the bellies of my family and friends with hearty and soul warming foods. Who cares if it is still 85 degrees, it is autumn for crying out loud!

This is award winning recipe belongs to Alcee "Butch" Bayard.   He has been crafting and tweaking this recipe for nearly a lifetime.  He recently walked away with a first-place trophy.  He said that the addition of whole wheat flour in place of a portion of the all-purpose flour made the difference in preparing the roux, and it scored him a first place trophy, after years of placing third.

A definite crowd pleaser.   There is what seems like a million versions and twists on gumbo, and most are good.  This one is very good, and it ranks as a keeper at my house.  Careful, this version can pack some heat as it sits overnight, or in my case a few days before I served it up to the crowd.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Serves a Crowd (12-15)
Recipe from Food Network Alcee "Butch" Bayard

2/3 cup canola oil 
3/4 up all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup finely chopped onion, plus 2 cups roughly chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1pound smoked sausage, sliced
8-ounces tasso ham or andouille sausage, diced
1-1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3-4 scallions, chopped
Cooked white rice, for serving (optional).

1.  Make the roux: Heat the canola oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk in both flours and cook, whisking constantly, until he roux is dark brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes, then stir in the finely chopped onion.

2.  Meanwhile, bring the broth and 20 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the roughly chopped onions, the celery and bell pepper; cook over medium-high heat, 15 minutes.  Stir in the roux in 3 batches; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 30 minutes.  Add the cayenne, garlic powder, 2-1/2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Stir in the smoked sausage and tasso ham or smoked sausage.  Reduce the heat to low: simmer 1-hour.  

3.  Return the mixture to a boil.  Add the chicken thighs and breasts and cook 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Skim the fat from the surface, then stir in the scallions.  Serve over rice.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jack's Night

Have a Freaky Happy Halloween!

Photo by Bing

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Fall Getaway

Taking a brief break to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains with family and friends.  I am looking forward to fun times, great meals, roaring fires, and sleeping with the windows open.

My family will be bracing for my food antics....I am loading up the car with apples on my return.

I will be back for Wordless Wednesday on October 31!

Photo from Bing

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Christo Gonzalez

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Horse's Neck- A Perfect Autumn Cocktail

My husband's birthday was this past weekend.  For his birthday, my older son bought him as a gift the latest, greatest cocktail book - William Yeoward's American Bar .  

The observation that I made about this gift is that my son has an appreciation for his parent's passions. He has his own style, his likes are not necessarily what gets us excited but, he gets it and he too, has embarked with an open mind about the things that he wants to discover. 

Parents have moments in their lives when they realize that their children are adults. This was one of those moments.

You may know, but it is my husband who makes these fabulous cocktails that are shared on the blog.  He pays attention to detail, and uses the best and freshest ingredients.  He is known among our friends to shake or stir a good cocktail.

This cocktail has strong flavors, and it is important that there is a balance that is achieved.  If you strike the balance you will have a good autumn cocktail to enjoy.

Horse's Neck Cocktail
Serves 1
Recipe from American Bar

2-ounces VSOP Cognac
10 drops Angostura bitters
Ginger ale, to top up
To garnish: lemon twist

Prepare a tall glass with the "garnish" of a large lemon twist.  Fill with ice cubes and add the ingredients; then stir.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Vicki Tewes

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Food for the Soul: Chicken Noodle Soup

Homemade Soup to me is soul satisfying.  I crave it.  I could probably eat it everyday without complaint. There is a connection to soup that runs deep.  You can make soup out of most anything, and that means  everyone can eat it, it is not an exclusive meal.  The most basic soups can provide comfort and nourishment to our bodies.

There is a conversation about eating soup that takes place at my house year round.  There is one side that insists that soup can only be enjoyed during the cooler months. The other side insists that soup is a can be enjoyed any day, anytime.  No one in my family wins the argument, we simply move to our respective corners with heels dug in deep.

Since North Florida is experiencing cooler temperatures (not autumn worthy temperatures) I have jumped on my soup making bandwagon...Drum roll, the eye roll of my husband.  He does not want soup for dinner, at least not yet.  He is waiting for February, when he is cold and soup warms him.  Me?  I am ready to head out in our perceived cooler temperatures, and get rocking.

I am coming out of the gate with a really simple chicken noodle soup.  A few ingredients, a simmer on the stove, and it is ready.  If you have homemade chicken stock or want to make the effort, it is worth your time.  If not, a good store bought stock will work fine.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 6
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1 whole chicken (2 split) chicken breast, bone-in, skin on
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
1 cup medium-diced carrots ( 3 carrots)
2 cups wide egg noodles or other hearty pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breast on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through.  When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred or dice the chicken meat.

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large pot and add the celery, carrots and noodles.  Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked.  Add the cooked chicken meat and parsley and heat through.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Karen Gibson

Friday, September 28, 2012

It's Five 0' Clock Somewhere- Tequila Oasis Cocktail

It is Friday folks!  You can spice up your fall weekend by shaking up this tequila cocktail for yourself, or this recipe can be easily doubled and tripled, so invite a few friends, to kick-back and enjoy. 

Tequila Oasis Cocktail
Makes 1
Recipe from Food Network Magazine

Shake 3-ounces pineapple juice, 1-1/2-ounces tequila, 3/4-ounce lime juice and 1/2-ounce triple sec in a shaker with ice.  Strain into an ice-filled glass.  Garnish with a lime twist.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Tomatoes on the Vine

Friday, September 21, 2012

Not Your Mama's - "Jacked-Up" Banana Bread

I eat bananas at the peak of yellow...Not a shade before, not a shade after.  The problem is I buy more than one banana at a time. Which equates to having a half-dozen bananas that have passed their shade of yellow.  Now at shades of black, I toss them into a ziplock freezer bag, and into my freezer.  Fast forward a few months, and I suddenly get a hunkering to do something with my stash of frozen black bananas.

Like everyone else with a stash of overripe bananas, I make banana bread.

Smitten Kitchen  has an over the top banana bread recipe.  This is a NO MIXER needed, slightly boozed-up version. This is one good banana bread recipe! You will be hard pressed to top with any banana bread recipe that you may have lying around.  I will even go out on a limb and say if you have a family favorite, toss it, this one is better.

"Jacked-Up" Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar (depending on your level of sweetness, that your prefer)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1-1/2 cups of flour

 Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the sugar, egg vanilla and bourbon, then the spices.  Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.  add the flour last, mix.  pour mixture into a buttered 4x8-inch loaf pan.  Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool on rack.  Remove from pan and slice to serve.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Sharon Rudd

Friday, September 14, 2012

Braised Chicken Thighs with Saffron, Green Olives and Mint

I am attracted to family style meals that you can platter up, and serve up with little to no fuss.

In this family meal, the chicken thighs are browned and then braised for almost an hour in its own juices, with a little help from chicken broth, spices, carrots and olives.  Chopped fresh mint is stirred in at the very end for a very subtle extra kick of flavor. The chicken thighs were served over large pappardelle noodles, and served family style.

I avoided going to the store for extra-ingredients.  I made do with what I had in my pantry. The recipe called for red onion, I used white onion and no saffron. I had a mix of green and black olives, rather than only green olives.  Still? The recipe rocked-Enjoy.

 The original recipe without adaption is below.

Braised Chicken Thighs
Serves 6 
Recipe from Mario Batali

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
All-purpose flour, for dredging
12 bone-in chicken thighs with skin (about 2-1/2 lbs.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large red onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
Small pinch of saffron
1 cup small pitted green olives (about 4-ounces)
1 medium carrot, finely diced
3 cups chicken stock or low sodium broth
1/2 cup lightly packed mint leaves, chopped

1.  In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering.  Spread some flour in a shallow bowl.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in the flour.  Add half of the thighs to the casserole, skin side down.  Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a platter.  Repeat with remaining chicken.

2.  Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the casserole.  Add the onions and saffron and cook over moderately high-heat, turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a platter.  Repeat with remaining chicken.

3,  Uncover the casserole and simmer over moderately low heat until the sauce is reduced slightly, about 15 minutes longer.  Arrange the chicken thighs on a platter.  Season the sauce with salt and pepper and stir in the mint.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Maureen Johnson

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tokyo Kaikan Gimlet

These last two months, I could not tell you if I was coming or going.   Finally a weekend to catch my breath.   Looking forward to getting the garden plot ready for the fall season, and evenings enjoying a good meal, and a good cocktail.

It has been awhile since I posted a cocktail recipe.  My apologies.

Tokyo Kaikan Gimlet
Makes 1 drink

1/4 gin (preferably Gordon's)
1 Tbsp, plus 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1Tbsp. simple syrup
1/2 tsp. Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice

Pour into a shaker filled with ice cubes.  Cover; shake vigorously until outside of shaker is frosty.  Strain into coupe glass; add 1 large ice cube from shaker.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photos submitted by Krista Bjorn

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Maureen Johnson

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fat Chewy Delicious Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I can dig good cookies.  Big fat chewy cookies that make me belly up to the bar at 10:00 at night, with a glass of cold milk in hand.  That is my kind of cookie goodness.

Now you have heard me whine on my blog that my baking skills have a lot to be desired.  It was true, and it is still true.  Yet these cookies turned out near perfect.  I was feeling baking love.  I must have followed the directions which is almost always a leap for me.

I am odd man out in my house.  Delicious defined for me is rice pudding and cookies like oatmeal raisin, which at best gets a yawn.   It's okay, it rocks.  I have managed to eat  4-dozen cookies, and get my fair share of calcium with all the milk that I consumed.

Fat Chewy Delicious Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 2-dozen cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick or 115 grams) butter, softened
2/3 cup (125 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 (95 grams) cups all purpose-flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 cups (120 grams) rolled oats
3/4 cup (120 grams) raisins
1/2 cup walnuts (65 grams), chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F (175 C)

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.  In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.  Stir this into butter/sugar mixture.  Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point, you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them.  You could also bake them right away, if you're impatient, but I do find that they end up slightly less thick.

The cookies should be two inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top.  Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Alisha Randell-The Ardent Epicure