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Tonight, we were supposed to be going out for dinner. However, the wood stove was too warm and comfortable and the company was good. We were cozy and Mother Nature wasn’t making leaving the nest too desirable even for an anticipated night out. Not having planned on making dinner tonight, this was a throw-together. Sometimes, honestly, I think the “open the pantry and empty the fridge” meals somehow turn out to be the best meals of all.
The ingredients on hand:
- leftover boiled chicken breast
- fresh basil
- broccoli crowns
- red bell pepper
- chili garlic sauce
- olive oil
- potato gnocchi
I sauteed the vegetables together, added the shredded chicken and a very little olive oil (the special one that Tim brought back from Spain) seasoned it with a little kosher salt and a teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce. Added the gnocchi when it was cooked (which didn’t take long at all) and topped it with a couple grinds of shredded asiago cheese. Served it with some warm homemade bread. We enjoyed it by the fire with some great music playing in the background. Very delicious, indeed.
The other day I found this recipe for chocolate banana bread. I tried it, it was a hit at our house, even among those that didn’t like banana bread.
Personally, I think the chocolate did the trick. How can anyone not like chocolate?
If you’re interested here is the link to the recipe, which can be found at www.cookinglight.com
I made these peach preserves over the weekend with fresh peaches. Oh my goodness, are they good. I found the recipe here at Natasha’s Kitchen and I suggest that you hop on over there to check it out. I adapted it a bit to add a touch of vanilla (about 1 teaspoon) to the peaches before I jarred them. I had my doubts since the recipe takes a couple days to complete, but it seems that it is well worth the wait.
Tim and I went blueberry picking and I may go again today since one of the blueberry pick-your-own places indicated on FB that today is the last day of picking for the season. We came home with two bags full of blueberries and I made a blueberry muffin cake. The original recipe is from Fine Cooking but I tweaked it just a bit to add a streusel topping, the same as on the blueberry muffins that I make. It definitely took the cake, which was delicious without the topping to a different level.
For those of you that asked, here is the recipe:
Blueberry Muffin Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine recipe)
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly; more for the pan
- 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 lb. (2 cups) fresh blueberries
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 t. cinnamon
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round springform pan.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Using a silicone spatula, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the berries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Tap the pan on the counter once or twice to break any air bubbles.
Mix together the topping ingredients which should make crumbles. Spread the crumbled streusel topping over the cake batter.
Bake until golden-brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The original recipe says the cooking time is 45-55 minutes which is what worked without the streusel. With the streusel topping, add an extra 15-20 minutes, check occasionally until a tester comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake and remove the side of the pan. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and serve warm or at room temperature. Ours didn’t make it to the cooling phase. It was steaming still when we removed it from the pan to eat with a cup of tea the other night for dessert.
Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is the day before the lenten season of fasting and abstinence begins. It is the culmination of the festival of Carnivale which begins with the celebration of the Epiphany which occurs twelve days after Christmas. In celebration of the last day before Lent, most people go all out with a special meal or in the case of a lot of people, a dinner of pancakes since Fat Tuesday is also known in parts of the world as Pancake Day. The reason being that people traditionally would use the last day before the lenten season to use up all their fat, eggs and dairy by making pancakes before Ash Wednesday to clean the cupboards, so to speak, of the rich and fattening foods that weren’t permitted during the fasting period.
We didn’t have pancakes for dinner (although that would have also been a good idea) instead, we had just about as fat a meal as one could get at the men’s requests– Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes with a provolone cheese sauce on kaiser buns and scalloped potatoes au gratin.
This is my trusty mandoline which is probably as old as at least one of the boys and is kept safe and sound in its cardboard box (together with its VHS instructional tape (give you an idea of how old it really is?) in the closet and is taken out for french fries, thinly sliced cucumber salad and for these potatoes. It made the work of thinly slicing four pounds of potatoes a heck of lot easier — otherwise I might not be writing this now, but rather I might still be slicing potatoes.
We had salad and I had steamed escarole too, just because we needed something green and relatively healthy.
Dessert will be double dark chocolate brownies that just got taken out of the oven instead of the King cake that a lot of people enjoy.
However you choose to celebrate — Happy Mardi Gras!
- Happy Mardi Gras! (frenchtwistedwoman.com)
- This History of Mardi Gras (stlouisanshenanigans.wordpress.com)
- Clean Monday, Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday – What’s It All About? (godspace.wordpress.com)
- Celebrate “Fat Tuesday” with Orange Beignets (myoldtowneorange.com)
So, for anyone who’s tried the yogurt recipe I posted the other day, here is something to go along with that yogurt. Pumpkin granola.
While Tom was away and the house was relatively empty, I went on a bit of a baking spree. I mixed up a batch of pumpkin granola from a recipe I found here on Stumbleupon and then I made these pumpkin granola bars which are also quite nice with a cup of tea.Eatingwell…livingthin posted a great pumpkin granola recipe. Such a simple thing, yet I have never tackled granola, despite my desire to do so. There has always been just one excuse after another….I don’t have the right ingredients, it will take too much time….yada, yada, yada. So, with nothing else of any moment to do, and the necessary ingredients in the cupboard I set out to make this granola.
I must digress for just a moment and say that if you haven’t been on Stumbleupon, I would definitely give it a try. You can create an account, pick your areas of interest and randomly “stumble” across websites on those topics. I have found a decent number of recipes using it and it’s also a nice way to come across websites that you might have otherwise ever found.
So…. back to the granola. Here is the recipe that I adapted from Eatingwell….living thin:
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup plus 2T maple syrup
1 egg yolk
2 t. pumpkin pie spice or a combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg as you would use for pie totaling 2 teaspoons)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
3 cups old fashioned oats — I used Bob’s Red Mill Steel cut but as long as you don’t use Quick cooking oats you should be fine
1 cup slivered almonds (you can use your nut of preference)
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Use parchment paper that you spray with cooking spray in a baking pan. Mine is 11 x 17.
Combine everything but the oats and nuts. Mix well. Then add oats and nuts, coating completely with the mixture.
Spread the mixture evenly in the pan and place in the oven. Stir every 15 minutes (honestly I forgot about this for the first 1/2 hour or so) and cook for about 1 hour. The granola should be brown when you take it out of the oven. Let it cool completely in the pan and then place in your favorite air-tight granola container.
Use it with your homemade yogurt or simply as a snack.
I came upon this homemade yogurt recipe over at Food in Jars and I love it! It is so easy, so simple and so delicious. I have made dozens of batches of yogurt this way and have yet to have one turn out disappointing, even when I forgot the jars overnight. Disillusioned with my yogurt maker which did great at first and then gave me a version of yogurt soup despite my attempts to try everything to get yogurt like the first few batches I was searching out another way to make yogurt. I wanted the convenience of the yogurt maker — the fix-it and forget-it attitude – I didn’t have time or the inclination to wrap crock pots in towels or tinker with the oven.
This is simple all you need is milk (I use skim) and about 2 T. of yogurt to use as starter the first time around – after that you can just save 2 T. from the previous batch. That’s the ingredients, here’s what else you require.
1. A small cooler (mine fits 2 or 3 quart mason jars)
2. Two quart size mason jars
3. One half gallon of milk (I use skim to make non-fat yogurt)
4. A whisk and a sauce pan to hold the half gallon of milk.
Then, it’s easy. Pour the milk into the sauce pan and heat until it is about 190 degrees. Remove from the stovetop and let it cool to 120 degrees. Then whisk in the 2 T of yogurt starter. Pour the milk into the quart jars — it should fill both of them to the tippy top perfectly. Cover the jars.
Put the jars into your cooler. Fill your cooler with hot tap water high enough to submerge the jars.
Put the lid on your cooler and I put mine right on the floor out of the way. Six hours later — YOGURT! You can leave it for up to 8 hours. I also left mine once overnight which was about 12 hours and it was tangy, but delicious.
Remove the jars from the cooler and put in the fridge. The finished product is 2 quarts of non-fat plain yogurt for the price of a half-gallon of skim milk and about 1/2 hour worth of my time. Not too shabby.
Doesn’t this look delicious? Let me tell you that it tasted as good as it looks. Okay, maybe it even tasted better than it looks.
I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine’s recipe for Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze. Start with a 3-4 pound beef brisket.
Part 1 – The Rub
1 T plus 1 t kosher salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Rub on the brisket and refrigerate for two hours or overnight. Then remove from refrigerator and let stand on counter for one hour.
Part 2 – Brisket
2 T. olive oil, divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 garlic gloves, crushed
4 cups beef broth
1 12 oz bottle of stout beer
3/4 cup bourbon (I didn’t have and used scotch instead — not a great differentiator of the brown liquors)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Thyme 1 tsp.
2 celery stalks chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 T. balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat 1 T oil in an oven proof large pot. Sear brisket on both sides, about 5 minutes each side. Remove brisket to plate and cover to keep warm. Heat remaining oil in pot, add onions and garlic, stir until onion is slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients to pot, return brisket to pot, cover and place into oven. Cook for approximately 4 hours, brisket should be tender but still together. Remove brisket from pot, use stick blender to puree remaining braising liquid. Remove 1/4 cup of braising liquid and reserve. Return brisket to pan.
Part 3 – The Glaze
Take 1/4 c. reserved braising liquid, add 1/2 c. apricot or peach preserves ( I didn’t have peach and apricot worked just fine) and 2 T. bourbon (I skipped the bourbon/scotch in the glaze and it tasted just fine to me)
Mix together with stick blender or regular blender. Spread over brisket (fat side should be up and cross-hatched). Return to oven and broil for approximately 10 minutes until glaze has caramelized.
This was delicious! We served it over jasmine rice with scallions on top and it was absolutely great. A lot of oven time but well worth it in the end. Highly recommend.
- Beer-Braised Brisket of Beef (thedailymeal.com)
- Braised beef brisket (charlotte.news14.com)
- Beef Brisket with Caramelized Onions and Merlot Sauce (stevesacooking.com)
- Savory Beef Brisket (toomuchbutter.com)
We woke up this morning to snow, a decent amount of it about 8 inches on the ground and more falling still from the sky. So, as someone recently said perhaps this is going to be the theme of the holidays this year, snow on the eve of each. Suits me just fine. We had snow the evening before Halloween and then snow on the Eve of Thanksgiving, round it out with some snow on Christmas Eve and I’ll be one very happy little camper.
It of course didn’t help that one of the boys decided it was time to make some cinnamon buns and in order to do that we needed Christmas music playing in the background. In addition to the cinnamon buns we took a stab at homemade jelly doughnuts.
Proofing by the woodstove.
The finished product……..
Lately, when I am searching for a recipe, either for some new ingredient I want to use or simply to find a different way to make the same old ingredients, I find myself clicking on the “Images” link in Google instead of sifting through the recipes themselves. I mean, we all essentially eat with our eyes, don’t we? If something is visually appealing to us, it is more a recipe that we might give a whirl. I don’t know about any of you, but personally a cookbook without pictures (with the exception of my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook) is a waste of good money. I want to see what the finished dish is supposed to look like before I attempt to cook it. I do not understand why cookbooks don’t have lots and lots of pictures. It would seem to me cookbooks sporting mouthwatering photos are more likely to sell than those that require you to imagine what the finished recipe is supposed to look like.
For example, don’t these just make you want to eat these?
Our first connection with our food, is usually its visual appeal. This is one of the reasons that presentation of food is all so important in restaurants. If it looks visually appealing and makes a nice presentation, we are eager to dig in and taste it, so we can confirm with our taste buds what our eyes are telling us.
Are you hungry yet?