Thursday, March 31, 2016

Roy's Braised Beef Short Ribs, Purple Potatoes and New Plates

Well, my new everyday dishes saga continues and just went to a new level.

We decided to invite over some new couple friends for dinner.  The husband has been playing golf with mine for over a year and after all this time, we scheduled a night to finally get together, meet each other's spouses, break bread and enjoy a bottle (or four) of wine over dinner.

Now mind you during the week leading up to this dinner my everyday salad plates were cracking and breaking one by one.  The pressure was on!!  I didn't want to serve dinner on our wedding dishes and come across too fancy...trying to keep it more casual but tasteful and those cracked, chipped dinner plates weren't going to have it.  Not to mention I purchased a new table runner and hurricane candle holders for the dinner...okay, maybe I did get fancy and go a little overboard.

So, I finally found a style I think I like.  I only purchased four salad and four dinner plates for our quaint dinner...think of it as a trial run.  I still haven't decided if I want to purchase more and make them the "official" daily dishes or not...stay tuned.

For our dinner menu on the new dishes I served Roy's Braised Beef Short Ribs, Mashed Purple Sweet Potatoes and Lemon-Garlic Haricot Verts with Toasted Almonds, paired with Angeline Pinot Noir.  Beautiful colors and flavors!

These Braised Beef Short Ribs come from one of our favorite most treasured restaurants...Roy's Hawaiian Fusion in Kona.  It is always the last meal we enjoy at the end of our trip, for a special evening before we depart Hawaii after a vacationing on the Kona Coast.

When we lived in California, we were so excited to have one only 15 minutes from us in Rancho Mirage.  Unfortunately the nearest Roy's to us now is a 12 hour drive away in Las Vegas...good thing I have commandeered some of their classic favorite recipes.

Braised Beef Short Ribs
Adapted from Roy's Pacific Rim Cuisine Restaurants

4 Servings

1/2 cup canola oil
4 (10-ounce) beef short ribs (boneless okay too)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup flour
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 cup red wine (preferably Cabernet Savignon)
3 bay leaves
2 quarts beef stock
10 black peppercorns, whole

Honey Mustard Glaze

1 cup whole grain mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup white wine (preferably Chardonnay)
1/8 - 1/4 cup garlic, chopped (depending how much you like garlic)
1 bunch basil leaved, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in a roasting or braising pan over medium heat.  Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Lightly dredge in flour.  Shake off any excess flour.  Sear all sides of short ribs until golden brown.  Add carrots, onions and celery to roasting pan and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.  Deglaze pan with red wine.  Add the bay leaves, beef stock and peppercorns.  Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil and bake until ribs are knife-tender, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

While short ribs are braising, mix all the ingredients for Honey Mustard Glaze in a bowl and set in refrigerator until ready to use.

When ready, remove short ribs from liquid and set aside.  Heat gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.  Brush short ribs well with the honey glaze and grill briefly to set the glaze.

While short ribs are searing off with the honey glaze, set roasting pan on stove and heat vegetables until sauce consistency.  Add more beef stock if needed.

Remove bay leaves and pour vegetable sauce over grilled short ribs.

**Prepare the purple sweet potatoes just as you would regular Yukon mashed potatoes with salt, pepper, butter, heavy cream, sour cream, etc.

One Year Ago:  Blackberry Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusal
Two Years Ago: Beer Battered Fish and Chips

Friday, March 25, 2016

English Pea Salad and Early Easter

A wonderful Good Friday to everyone today.  I hope this day and Easter weekend finds you full of Blessings.

As our girls are out of town this week, we celebrated Easter early and had our traditional dinner last weekend together.  I actually started celebrating about a month ago.  As soon as February was over, I began the Spring table decorating.   I love the thought of Spring and bringing in something old (a family decoration) and purchasing something new for the table to mix the two.

This year I decided we needed new Spring placemats and napkins (on sale of course).  I mixed them with the turquoise chargers I purchased for our Thanksgiving table and brought out my favorite bunny plates.  When I was expecting our girls 17 years ago, I took a ceramic painting class and made two of these bunny plates...where has the time gone?  I made one for each girl, so they could carry on the family special plates and have their own heirloom.

Our finished table with other heirlooms included candy dishes from my mother-in-law and feathered wreath as a centerpiece along with bunny and duck taper candle holders from my mom.

We use to hide these plastic eggs for the girls during their morning Easter egg hunt when they were toddlers. Now they fill my new hurricanes on the dining table...such special memories of those Easter mornings.

Our dinner also included some old and new recipes.  I made my stand by Corn Souffle along with the favorite Sweet Dreams Jello and Pretzel salad.  I also tried a new side dish...English Pea Salad.  It went together so quickly and had incredible flavor for something so simple.

English Pea Salad

1 (20 or 24 ounce) package frozen baby peas
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Best Foods Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. Lawry's Season Salt

Thaw bag of peas in refrigerator.

In a medium bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sugar, ground mustard and salt.  Add peas, celery, eggs, green onions and cheese.  Stir well to incorporate.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

One Year Ago: Pear Salad
Two Years Ago: Spaghetti Squash

May you have a Happy and Blessed Easter!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bunny Bark and Blizzards

So there are snow days...and then there are SNOW DAYS!  Yesterday was sunny and 70 degrees and a beautiful sunset evening.  Mother Nature came in full force overnight and we woke up to over a foot of snow and blizzard wind conditions.  Looks like my patio and fire pit time is going to have to wait awhile.

Needless to say the girls were overjoyed when they found out school was cancelled.  My husband and I looked at the driveway, the road in front of our house and then at each other...looks like work is cancelled today too.  There was no way we were getting out today.

Well, driving to work that is.  Bless his heart, he was working with shovels, brooms and snow blowers trying to tackle the what was then 2 feet of snow compiled.

My job was to deal with two restless Labradors and two bored teenagers, while catching up on laundry and Blue Bloods...oh and listening to my husband upset that golf season won't start until June now...oh, please no!!  Please do not make me listen to that until June!!!

My poor new "Spring" wreath has seen better days.  It got pelted with wind and snow today...just can't get a break here!  I have also seen better shower for this girl today (don't judge).  It is very rare that I get to have a "sea day"...or snow day as the case may be.  My family is lucky that I even got out of my pajamas 2pm!!

Since I had the afternoon to get caught up on new recipes and baking, I played with a spring version of my Holly Jolly Bark that I made at Christmas.

The bark matched a precious tiered dessert platter my mom gave me perfectly.

Scrumptious little snack portions for those long snowy days.

Bunny Bark

7 full size graham crackers, broke in pieces (or 14 vanilla Oreo cookies)
1-1/2 cups pretzel sticks, broke in pieces
1 cup Easter/Spring pastel colored M&M's candies
1 pound vanilla flavored quick melting chocolate
pastel colored sprinkles

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Lay out the broken graham crackers, pretzels and M&M's.

Melt the white chocolate bark according to package directions.  Pour melted chocolate over crackers, pretzels and candies.  Use an offset spatula to spread chocolate evenly and add the pastel sprinkles over chocolate.

Let set in refrigerator for one hour, so chocolate can set.  Cut into bite size pieces and package in Easter baskets.  (Use any leftover scraps from the sides as topping for ice cream -Yummy!!)

This is what transpires with bored teens at home...bunny bombed!!

One Year Ago: Pear Salad
Two Years Ago: Honey Ham Biscuit Sliders

Friday, March 18, 2016

Baked Shrimp Scampi and Bargain Shopping

Okay, that whole story I told you Monday about "signs of an early spring"...I lied!!  In fact, forget you ever read that, I'm sorry to report.  We woke up to 12 inches of snow this morning...needless to say the six of us (dogs included) at home were not in the greatest of spirits.  My husband was a trooper though as he fired up the snow blower and took care of our driveway and the neighbor's sidewalk so everyone could get out today.  I thanked him with a fresh batch of baked blueberry muffins to warm up his very frozen hands and face.

So, here is where I am this morning.

This is where I should and really want to be!!

Well, since I will be going this weekend without any backyard or patio time, looks like it will be inside house chores and some shopping.  I'm on the hunt for new everyday dishes.  It is taking me forever to find the perfect plates.  It took me all of 10 minutes to select my last vehicle, but I am now going on over a year trying to find these dishes.  I am so particular about the style, color, size, embellishments, shape etc..The ones we have must be at least ten years old and are starting to show signs of wear...kind of like me. 

At any rate, I love scouting out a good deal or bargain.  I am most definitely a fan of coupon clipping and downloading. Now mind you, I'm not like those "extreme couponing" households on tv.  I mean who really needs 27 containers of bulk mayonnaise?  Not to mention who has room for all that...but I say more power to them for trying to make a difference.  They did however get their own television series, so they must be doing something right.

I am one to hit the clearance area first, whenever I enter a store.  I try to find those hidden treasures before I go any further.  I found this container (which was originally in a canister set), being sold all alone, without its lid for $ 2.99...perfect for my whisks and baking utensils.  I also scored the coordinating coffee mug for .59 cents! There's only one and it's just for special coffee mug.

If you are observing no meat Fridays for Lent or just want a quick, flavorful dinner, this dish is awesome.  I love how easy it is and can be very versatile, depending on your tastes.

Baked Shrimp Scampi
Inspired and Adapted by Damn Delicious

2 Tbl. chicken broth
2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup Italian Seasoned Panko Japanese breadcrumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbl. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbl. capers, drained
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 box angel hair pasta, cook according to package directions
freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Add chicken broth and lemon juice to a 9 x 13 baking dish; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine Panko and melted butter; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, olive oil garlic, red pepper flakes and capers;  season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add shrimp mixture in a single layer to the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with Panko/butter mixture.

Place in oven and bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

Serve immediately over angel hair pasta and garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Pairs beautifully with a fresh Caesar salad and chilled buttery Chardonnay.

Cheers and Stay Warm!!

One Year Ago: Blarney Bark
Two Years Ago: Tri Tip Tacos

Monday, March 14, 2016

Portillo's Chopped Salad...Possibilities of Spring

We are finally starting to see the early signs of spring...I hope!!)  These sweet little buds showed up near our driveway last week on all the bushes.  Unfortunately I made the mistake of looking at the weather forecast for this upcoming week...rain and snow.  So, true to Colorado weather, we truly never know what is going to show up.  Oh well, "spring" was nice while it lasted this weekend.

Since we were enjoying our short stint of sunny spring weather, we decided to grill a flatiron steak and enjoy a fresh salad.  Portillo's was one of our favorite road trip dinner stops in California.  The restaurant was about an hour from our house and it was perfect for the last stop before heading home after a long day on the road with family and not wanting to make dinner upon arrival.

It's a super easy and very flavorful salad, full of color and textures.  In my opinion, there's nothing like a great chopped salad. Even though they take more time to prepare, I just love all the small delicious bites. This salad would be perfect to serve if you are hosting an upcoming Easter brunch or even a summer backyard BBQ...when the snow finally melts that is.

Portillo's Copycat Chopped Salad
Serves 10 to 12

Dressing: **
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

4 cups, cooked, drained and cooled, Ditalini pasta (cook according to package directions)
3 cups iceberg lettuce, chopped
3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
2 cups red cabbage, chopped
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green onions, finely diced
2 cups cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 4 ounce container Gorgonzola cheese crumbles

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients (or you can use a salad dressing shaker or blender) and set in refrigerator to fuse. ** I recommend to double the dressing, as it is a very large salad or you can always decrease the salad portion by half also though.

While the dressing is chilling, to assemble the salad, in a very large bowl, add all of the salad ingredients and toss well.  Shake dressing vigorously and drizzle all over the salad and toss again to incorporate.

Enjoy and Keep Those Sunny Spring Thoughts!!

One Year Ago: Luck of The Irish Cupcakes
Two Years Ago: Simply Salmon with Shrimp Tortellini

Thursday, March 10, 2016

BBQ Glazed Meatloaf and Jack and The Beanstalk

One of the super fun things about turning 50 is experiencing the interesting changes that you start to see (or don't immediately see).

Everyone remembers the English fairytale of Jack and The Beanstalk...mother and son need food, boy meets old man, man gives boy some beans, mom gets mad and throws beans out the window, boy wakes up next morning to magical giant beanstalks, etc, etc...

Well, lately I have been feeling like Jack and waking up with a giant, magical piece of hair growing out of my cheek!!  This is not just a piece of peach fuzz mind you, this one lonely piece has to be an inch long!! What in the world is this all about???  I pray to God that when I do see it, that it was not there the day before and I had been walking around all day with this thing flying in the wind.  What's worse, is if it did just show up that morning, what the heck is happening to me at night for this to appear.  I'm afraid to go to sleep now...just watch the 1978 version of "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" movie with Donald Sutherland and Brooke'll know exactly what I am talking about...that movie still terrifies me to this day.

When I do see it with my groggy pre-coffee morning eyes, I hurry and start the hunt for tweezers. My days of plucking eyebrows are long gone, because for some strange reason, when you get older, your eyebrows stop growing and hair magically appears on your face!  I then start plucking everywhere on my cheeks, before my family can see this point, I may as well just use my husband's razor.

So, the whole beanstalk story brings me to dinner...meatloaf, mashed potatoes, garlic cheese knots and green beans, of course!  I think I have tried over 100 meatloaf versions and still keep coming back to this one as our favorite.

I altered Traeger's original version simply because I don't like the taste of raw onions and I wanted to change it up with experimenting on a few of the other take on it is listed below.

BBQ Glazed Meatloaf
Adapted from Traeger Recipes

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat Pork Sausage (original flavor)
1 cup Panko Japanese bread crumbs
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 Tablespoon, barbecue rub seasoning mix (whatever is your favorite brand)
1 teaspoon Lawry's garlic salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (we like Stubb's Original)

In a saute pan, heat to medium and melt 3 Tablespoons butter.  When butter is sizzling, add the onions and saute until soft and starting to turn golden.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, bread crumbs, bbq seasoning and garlic salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and milk.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.  Add the liquid ingredients and cooked onions to the meat mixture.  Mix with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated.

Spray a disposable 8" x 8" foil pan with non-stick spray.  Form the meat into a loaf shape in the pan.
Pour the bbq sauce on top of loaf and spread evenly.

**We prefer to make this meatloaf on our Traeger at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.  You can do the same temperature and timing method in your oven by baking it instead with same results (you just won't have the smoky flavoring added).

If there are any leftovers, this meatloaf makes an unbelievable slider sandwich on King's Hawaiian Rolls.  Just slice the meatloaf, warm it up by searing in pan with melted butter on both sides and serve on rolls with bbq sauce, melted Monterey-Jack cheese and French's Fried Onions. Over-The-Top!!!

Enjoy and "Keep On Pluck'n"!

One Year Ago: 24 Hour Salad
Two Years Ago:Chili-Cheese Egg Bake

Friday, March 4, 2016

Wisdom...(Words and Teeth) and Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken

We are now 24 hours into my daughter's wisdom teeth surgery and her recovery.  Bless her heart she was amazing through the entire procedure.  Her first time under anesthesia and any type of surgery. She is so strong and resilient and never complained all day.

The hardest part is trying to give words of wisdom and comfort someone who is under the influence and is not making any sense.  She had a couple of good one liners during the ride home and I had to hide my laughter.  At one point she had me in tears I was laughing so hard at her off the wall comments, coming off her drugs.

Ice Packs, Meds Schedule, Guaze...check, check and check.

Leave it to me the "list lady" to write down the times of meds schedule so I wouldn't forget or get the two crossed.  The nurses were saying so many instructions as we were checking out my head was spinning and knew I had to write it all down when we returned home.

Serenity now for my patient.

When we got home, I lit every candle in the house for my little patient.  I closed the blinds, got her settled on the Family Room couch, complete with her favorite Seahawks blanket, and kept a very serene environment for her recovery.

Theo, best nurse assistant ever!  Giving his best healing love to his friend.

Her greatest friend, protector and now nurse, Theo, did a great job sharing his love and helping her heal.  I think all the serenity candles (and blanket) made for a day of napping for him as well.

So, the three of us enjoyed our "Blue Bloods" marathon on tv and we settled in for a day of rest. When everyone came home for the night, it was time for me to go from nurse, to chef.

Super easy chicken dish I found on Pinterest a few weeks ago and just got around to making it.  The Bon Appetit website had an amazing looking Eggplant Panzanella and Raisin-Pine Nut Vinaigrette to accompany it, but I was too exhausted to take that on...going to need to save that for another night.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken
Adapted from

6 (6-ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
8 ounces Taleggio cheese, rind trimmed, cheese cut into six 2-inch long slices
12 thin slices prosciutto

** for my own sauce:
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbl. dijon mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream

Place chicken breasts on work surface.  Using sharp knife and starting at thickest side of 1 chicken breast, cut 2-inch long, 1-inch deep horizontal pocket, being careful not to cut through completely to other side of breast.  Insert 1 piece of cheese in pocket and press opening closed.  Sprinkle chicken with a little salt and pepper.  Place 2 prosciutto slices side by side on work surface, slightly overlapping on long sides.  Place 1 chicken breast crosswise atop center of prosciutto slices;  wrap prosciutto slices around chicken, covering completely and pressing to adhere.  Repeat with remaining chicken, cheese and prosciutto.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 3 chicken breasts to skillet and cook until browned, about 4 minutes each side.  Transfer chicken to large baking sheet and repeat with other 3 chicken breasts. ** Save skillet drippings and remnants for sauce.

Roast in oven approximately 15-20 minutes (or until cooked through).  Transfer cooked chicken to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

**While the chicken is roasting deglaze skillet you cooked chicken in with the chicken broth on high heat.  Scrape up all the prosciutto and chicken bits with broth.  Turn heat to low and whisk in dijon mustard.  Take off heat and whisk in heavy cream.  Let simmer until chicken is done in oven.

One Year Ago: Spicy Asian Beef
Two Years Ago: Tapenade Pasta Salad