Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wassail and Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving to you and much to be grateful for and the many blessings that have and continue to bestowed upon us.

We started our morning with a "turkey trot" and a glorious sunny walk with the dogs.  When we came back home, I had a nice hot batch of Wassail waiting for us, complete with my homemade Juicy Apple Popovers.

My husband has been fighting a terrible cold all week and I knew a batch of his favorite Wassail would do the trick to help him feel better.

We hope this holiday finds you, your friends and families well and full of blessings!

Hot Wassail

1 gallon apple cider
4 cups orange juice
5 cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbl. whole cloves
1 orange, sliced into rounds
1 lemon, sliced into rounds

Bourbon (optional)

Place all ingredients in slow cooker (except Bourbon) and mix well.

Turn the slow cooker on high heat and cook for 3-4 hours (or on low for 6-8 hours).

Ladle in a mug and serve hot.  (Optional to add a wee taste of Bourbon to your mug of wassail, should you choose).

One Year Ago:  Apple Pie Martini
Two Years Ago: Juicy Apple Popovers

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Savory Roasted Peppers

Growing up I never liked the taste of salmon, and I grew up in Alaska!  I think it took me until I was in my thirties to really acquire a taste for it and appreciate all the different ways it can be prepared. Now, I love it!  I have learned to grill, bake, and pan sear it.

Our local fish counter every now and then has their featured "Bourbon Glazed Salmon" for sale.  It has been marinated and ready to prepare. Try as I have, I cannot get them to give me their recipe for the bourbon glaze, which is out of this world..  I am still experimenting with it and trying to recreate the glaze, but until then, I'll just keep enjoying theirs.

These peppers are awesome on salmon and just about any other type of meat.  These have become a staple in our house and a quick accompaniment to any dinner.

Savory Roasted Peppers
Adapted from Kikkoman

3 large peppers (orange, yellow and/or red)
3 Tbls Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
2 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbl finely chopped fresh oregano leaves (or 1/2 Tbl. dried if you don't have fresh)
1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional), depending on what you are serving this with

Turn on oven to broil mode.  Cut peppers in quarters and arrange skin side up,
 in single layer on foil lined cookie sheet (sprayed with non-stick spray). 

 Broil 6 to 8 minutes or until skin is blackened.  
Turn peppers over and cook 5 minutes longer. 
 Remove from broiler; let stand on sheet 5 minutes.

Remove skin from peppers and cut into strips, set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, 
olive oil, oregano and garlic.

Add peppers to vinegar mixture, stirring to coat well.
Marinate 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Arrange marinated peppers over your favorite meat or fish.
(Sprinkle feta cheese over peppers if serving with steak or chicken)

One Year Ago: Two Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins
Two Years Ago:  Churchill Downs Signature Barbecue Shrimp

Every good chef should have a secret sauce, 
wouldn't you agree - here is mine!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cioppino For Those Chilly Nights

It's back, it's cold and it came in hard last night with a vengeance!  Our first winter snow storm came roaring in like a lion with severe wind gusts all night and this morning.  Needless to say when the dogs went out, they were very quick to do their business and came running back into the house looking like I had just dusted powdered sugar all over them.

I have been on a serious soup craving as of late, with all the chilly nights we've been experiencing.  It started last week with a chiropractic appointment for my daughters that went into overtime and we got out late.  I looked at my watch and said, "I'm not cooking, we're stopping at Panera to pick up dinner!" (which is a very rare statement for me to make on short notice).  I have to admit, that was the best chicken and wild rice soup I have had in a very long time - definitely hit the spot!

This Cioppino, I decided to tackle during one of our ENS nights (Empty Nest Syndrome), while the girls were at a tournament.  I don't know why I had been so intimidated by the soup (aka "Fisherman's Stew"), it was one of the easiest and most flavorful and fun dinners to make.

For Chilly Nights

1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and chopped finely
3 Tbl. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. dried red chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes in juice
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup full bodied red wine (like Zinfandel)
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice (or fish stock)
1/2 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1/2 pound manila clams, scrubbed
1/2 pound halibut, cut into 2 inch chunks
1/2 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound cooked snow crab legs, shells cracked and meat removed (discard shells)
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 loaf rustic crusty baguette

Heat olive oil in a 5 to 6 quart heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Stir in the onions, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and salt.  Cook covered over medium heat, stirring once or twice until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

Add tomato paste, tomatoes with their juice, water, red wine and clam juice.  Cover and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer covered about 30 minutes, until the flavors blend.

Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid.  Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5-10 minutes.  Add the halibut, shrimp, scallops and snow crab meat.  Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer.

Discard any clams or mussels that do not open and discard the bay leaf.  Season the soup, to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls.  Squeeze a little of the lemon wedge over the soup and serve with rustic baguette (for some serious mopping up of all that yummy goodness).

One Year Ago:  Sweet Shrimp and Spicy Sausage Skewers
Two Years Ago:  Pear Tart

Yes, it was that good - he went for seconds and thirds!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast Bake...Baby It's Cold Outside

Well our morning temperatures have definitely dropped as of late.  It's just a tad bit chilly when we wake up now.  Still no snow yet though, just crisp fall air which is perfectly okay with me at this point.  I'm not quite ready to pull out every parka, coat, scarf, hat and gloves quite yet.  Although, I have already started wearing a few of my pashmina scarves that I love so much (don't ask how many colors of them I have), because I am fashionable like that.

A few weeks ago when we were entertaining family, I decided to have a send off Sunday brunch for my sister-in-law and her husband.  In planning the menu I really wanted to do biscuits and gravy but they can really get heavy sometimes.  I decided to make a breakfast bake instead with the same ingredients, only cutting up biscuits into quarters.  This way it is much more portioned control and health conscious for those of us watching our figure...well, that's the story I was trying to convince myself of anyway.  

WOW!!  This dish was awesome.  My husband went back for seconds and thirds.  The bake was gone in a blink, before I could even get a photo of it.  So, as luck would have it, I made another batch of it the next week, so I could get photos and it was still a huge hit with the family!  If you have upcoming holiday company in the near future, I highly recommend this one for breakfast.

Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast Bake

2 (12 ounce) packages Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat Sausage
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 to 4 cups whole milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Lawry's season salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (12 ounce) container Pillsbury Grands Jr. Biscuits (10 count)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9x13 glass baking dish
with non-stick spray inside (bottom and sides).

If you have a cast iron skillet, I recommend using that
to make the sausage gravy.

Brown sausage over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Sprinkle half the flour and stir so
that sausage soaks it all up, then add more a little at a time.
Stir around again and pour in the milk, stirring constantly.

Cook the gravy, stirring frequently until it thickens (up to 15 minutes).
Sprinkle in the seasoned salt and pepper and continue cooking.
If it gets too thick, add 1/2 cup milk at a time, if needed.

While the sausage gravy simmers, cut the biscuits into
quarters and spread around baking dish.

Pour the sausage gravy over the biscuits and stir well, 
to make sure all the biscuits are coated and evenly distributed.

Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes,
until biscuits are cooked through and lightly browned.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

One Year Ago:  Creamy Artichoke Bruschetta
Two Years Ago:  Cherry Cheesecake Brownies