Memorial Weekend

How did you spend your Memorial day weekend?  I spent most of my mine in my kitchen. I was lucky enough to have five whole days off….IN A ROW, people!  It was awesome.  We traditionally host our Commencement ceremony the Wednesday  before Memorial Day.  I took Thursday off, well, because I totally exhausted from working an insane amount of hours Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and Friday was our first Summer Friday!  So, one day off = a five day weekend, YEAH ME!

I spent Thursday running errands – grocery shopping, haircut, picking up my dry cleaning….you know all the stuff that gets put on the back burner during Commencement month…AKA….May.  I picked up two flats of vegetables and herbs for my garden.  Friday morning I planted, Friday afternoon I picked up flats of flowers.

While I was getting my flowers, I checked the local farm stands for strawberries.  Because of the rain and cooler temperatures, local strawberries are not quite ready for picking.  I was hoping to make some jam this weekend, but alas, it was not in the cards.  Never fear!  I can always find a canning or kitchen project.

hot sauce

Late last year I made a match of fermented hot sauce and it was a HUGE hit with everyone I shared it with.  I have been getting a ton of requests for more, so this weekend, I grabbed a bunch of hot peppers (jalapeno’s and habaneros), along with some garlic, and spices.  It is now fermenting away on my counter.  All I need to do is burp the jars every day and wait…

Saturday we were invited to a birthday party for two of the little girls who live next door.  Their Mom decided on a taco bar as our entree so I made a batch of mango salsa and paired it with chips as a side dish.  It went over really well, slightly spicy and sweet, it was the perfect combo and a great salsa for a party with children.

mango salsa

Sunday we were invited to a friends house for dinner.  I supplied the desserts…

confetti cookie doughconfetti cookiesderby pie

Confetti cookies, because they are just fun and taste AMAZING and Derby Pie because every rainy Sunday deserves a bit of bourbon and chocolate!

Monday, I made a toll house pie for us to enjoy as our dessert.

toll house pie

Tuesday came far too quickly, I was really enjoying my time at home.  Thank goodness we are lucky enough to have Friday’s off for the entire summer.  I only worked three days this week. It was the perfect way to ease back into the job after so much time off!

May the 5th

Doesn’t have quite the ring as May the Fourth Be With You, but it is still a very fun day in our house.  I ended up with the weekend off…..I KNOW…how is that possible in May?  I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, I thoroughly enjoyed having two whole days off, IN A ROW.  It is like a miracle.  Anyway, May 5th was Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby.  What’s a girl to do, that is too very food heavy holidays in our house and I couldn’t decide….so I took inspiration from both

beef chimi

For dinner, I made shredded beef chimi’s with a southwestern style coleslaw and rice.  The coleslaw is super simple.  I grabbed a bag of pre shredded coleslaw mix and made a vinaigrette with minced garlic, half of a jalapeno, minced, cilantro, lime juice, white wine vinegar, a drizzle of honey, and a bit of olive oil.  Toss it all together with the cabbage and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.   Once the coleslaw was done, I turned my attention to making a batch of pickled red onions, when we were ready for dinner, I added a handful to the slaw.  The rest of the onions I have been using in my salads and in sandwiches this week.  DELICIOUS!

For the meat, I start with 2 lbs of beef cubes in a sauce pan.  I add a couple of cloves of garlic, sliced, and a ton of spices: cumin, paprika, smoked paprika, Arizona Dreaming, chili powder, cayenne, smoked cumin, and ground chipotle.  I added the other half of the jalapeno from the coleslaw, only because I had it and didn’t want it to go to waste.   Cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for three hours, until tender.  Bring the pan back up to a boil to reduce the liquid until almost dry.  Shredded beef using two forks.

I put a handful of beef on the bottom third of a tortilla, roll it up and fry it.  Once they are golden  brown, I transfer to a cookie sheet lined with a cooling rack and place them in the oven at 300 degrees to keep them warm while I finish frying the rest.

All I had left to do was make a batch of Goya Mexican Rice and dinner was served!

derby pie

We finished dinner just before the start of the Kentucky Derby.   I sat on the couch, watching the race with a glass of bourbon and a slice of Chocolate Bourbon Pie, AKA Kentucky Derby Pie.   I’ve made many versions of this pie over the years.  I saw this one and was intrigued by the addition of cornmeal to the batter.   I used walnuts, because I had them on hand, I used yellow cornmeal, again, because I had it in my pantry, and finally, I used half white corn syrup and half treacle – because I had an open container that needed to be used up! This pie is awesome, chocolate, bourbon, nuts….oh my!  Don’t wait until the next Kentucky Derby to make this!  It was a fun day with some incredible food – can you ask for a better way to spend the first Saturday in May?  I can’t think of one.

Easter Dinner

We had a quiet Easter this year, just me and the hubby.  I think we both really needed the downtime.  Work has been stressful for both of us and it was nice to just relax in the sunshine and have an intimate dinner at home.

I traditionally make lamb for Easter.  We both like it and it’s pretty simple to make.  I make a marinade of garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper, dijon mustard, and lemon.  After whisking that together, I slather it on both sides of a rack of lamb and let it sit for at least two hours in the fridge.

Holiday dinners in my house wouldn’t be the same without a decadent side dish.  I decided on a potato gratin – potatoes, cream, and gruyere, goodness knows you can never go wrong with  those three ingredients.  To finish off the plate, I grilled up some asparagus.

easter dinner

We were both really happy with dinner, everything turned out perfectly and I made just enough so we didn’t have any leftovers.  The hubby is leaving this afternoon for another business trip and I am not one for eating leftovers!

For those of you that celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful Easter!

Rolls – Two Ways

I have been itching to get back to making bread. I have been feeding my sourdough starter, week after week, for months but I haven’t had the chance to actually DO anything with it.  Thankfully, I had a few days off over Christmas so I decided now was my chance!  I took a look at a bunch of recipes, but they all made WAYYYY more that we can eat and I absolutely HATE when food goes to waste.  I decided to make one batch of dough and create two different rolls with it.   One to eat that night and one to have the next morning.

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I used the King Arthur Flour Recipe for Buttery Sourdough Rolls.  I split the dough, creating a garlic and butter roll for dinner and a cinnamon roll for breakfast the next day.

It worked beautifully!  I melted some butter and added three minced cloves of garlic to it.  I brushed that on one half of the dough, rolled it up and cut it into rolls.  I placed them in a greased 8″ round pan and set it on the stove to rise.

Garlic and Butter Sour Dough Rolls - Baked

Fresh from the oven!

With the other half of the dough, I brushed it with melted butter and added a mixture of cinnamon and  brown sugar.  Again, after rolling it up, I sliced it and placed them in a greased 8″ round pan.  I set that on the stove to rise for 30 minutes before covering it and allowing it to finish rising in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, I pulled them out of the fridge an hour before I was ready to bake them, to allow them to come to room temperature.   I baked them for 25 minutes, then made a glaze of powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and heavy cream.  When the buns came out of the oven, I poured the icing over them and let it melt slightly before serving.  OH MY GOODNESS…they were amazing!

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Definitely put both the hubby and I into a sugar coma for the rest of the morning, but it was TOTALLY worth it!  We certainly indulged ourselves the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I don’t regret a thing.

 

Tradition!

I know everyone has their favorite New Year’s Day foods – they ones that you are supposed to eat for good luck.  In our family, that has always been pork and sauerkraut.  I hadn’t gotten around to making sauerkraut this fall, and I was in the mood to try something new, so I pulled out several cookbooks and ended up trying Marcella Hazan’s recipe for Smothered Cabbage.   

Shredded Cabbage

We LOVED it, similar to sauerkraut (only A LOT less sour!), the cabbage was tender, the caramelized onions added just the right amount of sweetness to the dish.  I will definitely make this again.

For the pork, I chose Ms. Hazan’s recipe for Pork Braised in Milk.  I have made this recipe before and it is amazing.  The pork gets absolutely tender and the milk transforms into a sweet, nutty sauce.   I started the pork, then the cabbage.  Both cooked, in separate pots, of course, on the stove top, for three hours.  It really was a very hands off, easy dinner – oh – and my house smelled amazing!  I rounded out the meal with some oven roasted potatoes.  Our plates looked pretty plain, but after one bite, we totally didn’t care – the flavors and textures were perfection.

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I guess we have a new tradition in our house!  I am going to add some of the leftover cabbage to the leftover onion soup and add rice.  I will let you know how that turns out!

Happy New Year!

My goodness, 2017 was one for the record books.  I had no intention of taking a break from writing this blog, work kinda consumed my life.  Well – NO MORE!  I truly enjoy writing this blog and I refuse to allow my work life to be my only priority.  Anyway, enough about work – we need to be talking about FOOD.

2017 ended with both the hubby and I feeling under the weather.  I decided we needed delicious and healthy food to get us back on track.  Since that didn’t work, I tried bacon and guess what – it WORKED!

NYE Breakfast

After that hearty breakfast, we had a light lunch of leftover soup (you know the thing that was supposed to cure what ails me….)

chicken barley soup

I took a picture while I was cooking.  I love the colors in this photo and man did it taste amazing.  I joke that it didn’t cure me, but it certainly made me feel better, what more can you ask for when your head feels like it is stuffed with cotton?

Anyway, I was originally going to cook veal chops on the grill for our New Year’s Eve dinner, but the temperature was hovering around 5 degrees and I was afraid the grill wouldn’t get hot enough.  I decided to stuff chicken breasts with spinach and cheese and bake them in the oven.  Good choice – if I do say so myself!

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

They turned out better than I expected.  I used a 10 oz box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained.  To that I added a container of Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese.  I cut a pocket in the chicken and stuffed them with the spinach mixture.   I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  After browning them in a cast iron skillet, I slide them in the oven to finish cooking.   Dinner was a simple affair – French Onion Soup, Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and Baked Potatoes.  For dessert, I whipped up a Maple Pear Upside Down Cake – it was amazing!  I found the recipe in the New York Times https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012862-maple-pear-upside-down-cake 

Maple Pear Upside Down Cake

I highly recommend making it if you have the time. Well, that was our New Year’s Eve – I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.  Happy 2018!

Christmas Eve Dinner

I spent much of Christmas Eve trying to finish up my home made gifts.  I wanted an easy dinner, one that I could slide into the oven and not worry about.  One that had vegetables, starch, and meat on one pot.  My of the hubby’s favorite dinners is a recipe I found in the Rao cookbook a few years back. It is Chicken with Peppers and Sausage.

chx-and-peppers-with-sausage

It is a super easy recipe, bone in chicken pieces, italian sausage cut into 1″ pieces, peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, garlic, and potatoes.  All seasoned with oregano, salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil.  Toss it all in one pan, roast at 425 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes, turning the contents of the pan every 20 minutes or so.  The meat falls off the bone, the flavors are off the charts delicious, and it is ridiculously easy to make.  What more could you ask for on an early winter’s night.  Plus, cooking it makes your house smell AMAZING!