It’s that time of year!: Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Pumpkin Vinaigrette

I love fall and even though it’s not quite here yet I couldn’t resist making something with pumpkin. This is just the beginning, stay tuned for more pumpkin recipes or try these.

Pumpkin Vinaigrette

2T pumpkin puree

1/4 c apple cider vinegar

3 T olive oil

1 t honey

salt and pepper to taste

add all ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth ( you could also wisk by hand)

Pumpkin Vinaigrette

 

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Corona Chicken Stew (and the confession of a beer snob)

Corona Chicken Stew

 

If you follow my posts you will know that I love craft beer, and the hoppier the better. But come close, I have a small confession and I don’t really want it to get out. I like Corona, there I said it. When the hops are too heavy and its 90 degrees outside, I love an ice cold refreshing watered down lager with a lime.  So as it happens I may have some left over in my refrigerator and let me tell you it is pretty tasty in this light Caribbean slow cooked chicken stew, and if no one is looking I may drink one with dinner.

Corona Chicken Stew

3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4s

1 yellow onion sliced

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 bottle of Corona or Corona Light Beer

2 T brown sugar

2 T ponzu or soy sauce

1 T garlic, minced

1 T ginger, minced

2 T jerk seasoning ( I used McCormick’s)

1 large orange, juice and zest

2 limes, juice and zest

1c frozen corn

 

In a crock pot or slow cooker add potatoes and onion, then position chicken on top. pour in beer. Sprinkle with brown sugar, soy sauce, jerk seasoning , garlic and ginger. Add zest from limes and orange and their juices.

Corona Chicken Stew

 

Add corn and cover, Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8. Serve over rice.

Corona Chicken Stew

Corona Chicken Stew

Corona Chicken Stew

Southwestern London Broil

Southwestern London Broil

Southwestern London Broil

1 1/2 lb london broil

1 c diced tomatoes ( I used canned)

1 t salt

1 t cumin

1 t chopped garlic

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 lime juiced

Put london broil in a gallon sized ziplock bag, add remaining . Close bag and mix and massage marinade into meat with your hands. Place bag in refrigerator for 6-24 hours, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 450. Place meat and marinade on a baking sheet, add sliced peppers and onions if desired.

Southwestern London Broil

 

Cook for about 15 minutes, then turn on broiler and cook for 5 minutes more per side ( use a meat thermometer to check doneness, cooking time will depend on thickness and weight of meat)

Let rest 10 minutes and then slice thinly against the grain. Great by itself or served in tortillas.

Southwestern London Broil

Southwestern London Broil Southwestern London Broil

 

 

Heels in the Kitchen: Elvis Cookies

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

Today I am wearing heels in the kitchen, special occasion?  No, but 15 months after knee surgery I still look like a 10 year old trying to walk in her mom’s shoes. I am sick of flats, and flip-flops, I want to wear grown up shoes, after all I love shoes and there are too many pairs of heels to count, in my closet, just collecting dust. Maybe I am over thinking it, so I figured if I put them on while I was busy in the kitchen I would forget about the awkwardness and just walk in them. Well, I think it was slightly helpful, next step mopping and gardening in heels, the neighbors (and my family) may think I am crazy but I am getting back in my shoes!

Oh and I made these delicious cookies today, oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip. So obviously I named them Elvis cookies, thank you, thank very much.

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

1 1/2 c flour

1 c sugar

1/2 t salt

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 c butter softened

3/4 c peanut butter

1 egg

2 bananas mashed

1 1/2 c old fashioned oats

1 c mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, butter and peanut butter to a large bowl. Beat on low until ingredients are combined and the mixture starts to crumble. Add egg, bananas and oats, mix until it forms a dough, stir in chocolate chips. use a med ice cream scoop or a heaping tablespoon and place dough on cookie sheets.

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

bake for about 18 minutes or until edges brown and cookies are slightly golden. (my oven is on the slow side so check after 14 minutes)

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

Let cool and enjoy! Makes about 4 dozen

Elvis Cookies: Oatmeal, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip

Frosty The Cheeseman, Performance Food Art

Frosty the Cheeseman

We always have a book club Christmas party, and the stakes are high. Not only can these girls read and have intelligent conversations, they are crafty, gourmet cooks and food connoisseurs. So when choosing a dish to bring you can’t resort to the usual stand bys. Last year I saw a picture of this cheese ball snowman and thought that’s it, food performance art. Now I know culinarily speaking it is not that exciting but it makes up for it in entertainment value.

Frosty The Cheeseman

1 large box and 1 small box of velveeta cheese any flavor

2 bricks cream cheese softened

green pepper

black olives

carrots

toothpicks

cut the velveeta into 3 pieces, like a snowman they should vary in size from large to small, using your hands roll them into ball shapes ( velveeta is like playdoh, its easy)

frost the balls with the cream cheese and stack them using toothpicks to hold them together.

cut arms, hat, and buttons from carrots ( be creative use whatever vegetables you have)

cut a bow out of a green pepper

use black olives for eyes

Heres the fun part, put frosty in a fondue pot or electric fry pan on low, watch Frosty melt into a puddle of goodness, and serve with chips.

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Tomatillos 101 : Meatloaf with Creamy Tomatillo Gravy

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What’s a tomatillo? Is it a green tomato? I often get asked these questions when checking out at the supermarket. These crazy little husked fruits are actually members of the goose berry family and have a tart taste. Mostly used in latin cuisine, these are the little gems that make salsa verde and the green sauce for enchiladas green. They are actually not ripe when green which makes the taste tart instead of sweeter like its red, purple or brown counterparts.

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To use the husk must be removed, revealing a slightly sticky skin. After removing the husk, skin and seeds are all edible.

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I love to make cream sauces with these because I love the balance of the cream with the tartness. This gravy would also be great on chicken or pork.

Meatloaf with Creamy Tomatillo Gravy

for the meatloaf

2 lbs ground meat ( I used 1/2 pork and 1/2 beef my favorite meatloaf combination)

1 egg

2 T cream

2 T Cholula Hot Sauce (use your favorite)

2T ketchup

2t salt

1t black pepper

1t dried oregano

1 t cumin

2 t chopped garlic

1/2 c bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, place into a baking pan and form into a loaf shape. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

for tomatillo gravy

5 tomatillos, husks removed and chopped

1 c chopped onion

4 garlic cloves chopped

1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth

1 t green hot sauce (optional)

1/2 cream

1/2 t pepper

1/2 t salt

Saute tomatillos and onion in a large pan until soft, add garlic and saute 2 more minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Add cream, salt and pepper and cook for 5 more minutes, puree with a hand blender or regular blender if desired.

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Serve over sliced meatloaf with masked potatoes or rice.

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Sharing a Labor of Love: Oma’s Rouladen

Some of my favorite memories of my Oma (that’s grandmother in German) are in the kitchen. She patiently (or sometimes not so patiently) taught me how to make several traditional German family favorites. I was her oldest grandchild born to her oldest son so I was chosen to carry on these traditions. I wasn’t so sure as a young girl but now I know I was the lucky one that got to spend many a weekend learning to prepare  potato salads, crumb cake, kohlrouladen, potato pancakes, and rouladen. There were no written recipes, she just knew how to do it by feel, and taught me the same way. I admit this was difficult, but it was when I was cooking with her that I really learned that cooking was more than following a recipe, it was about making something for someone, a gift to be enjoyed by family and friends, a way to show someone you love them.

I now have a love for cooking, it is a way for me to relax, a hobby that takes my mind off the ordinary and mundane. It is a way for me to give back to the people I care about. I don’t always include my children in the actual process of cooking, it is my time, but when ever I make one of my Oma’s recipes I get nostalgic and without even thinking invite my son into the kitchen with me. It is like there is something more than food with these recipes, it is a bond that must be passed on. This week when Rouladen was on the menu he joined me at my side and I realized that even though we don’t have this dish that often he already knew exactly how to make it. We didn’t even get out measuring cups, but he just looked at the ingredients we had prepared and said we are going to need more pickles and  he went straight to work chopping up some more. I smiled and knew my job was done, he is now the chosen one, I hope someday he thinks he’s lucky.

Oma’s Beef Rouladen

1 1/2 lbs of thinly sliced bottom round steak

1/4 c dijon mustard

approx 6 strips of raw bacon cut in half

1 c chopped dill pickles (use the refrigerated kind)

1 c chopped red onion

2 T butter

2 T flour

2 1/2 c  stock or water

1/4 t pepper

Place the steaks between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until thin but not falling apart. Spread a thin layer of mustard on the steak, place 1/2 a strip of bacon on each piece of meat. Add about 1 1/2 t of chopped pickles, and 1 1/2 t chopped onion to the top of each steak. Roll meat into a bundle and secure with a small wooden skewer or a couple of toothpicks,making sure the onions and pickles will not come out.

Preheat an electric frying pan and melt the butter over med high heat. Add the rouladen and brown on both sides.

Add 1 cup chicken or beef stock or water, reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Remove the rouladen from pan.

Add 1 1/2 c water or stock mixed with 2 T flour to the pan, bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cook until gravy is slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

Serve with boiled potatoes and cabbage or collard greens if you are a southerner like me.

Happy National Sneak Some Zucchini on to Your Neighbor’s Porch Day AKA National Zucchini Day

Well I love Zucchini but had no idea about this holiday. It was started by Tom Roy, a man from Pennsylvania, and this holiday encourages sharing of large zucchini crops. “Due to the overzealous planting of zucchini, citizens are asked to drop off baskets of the squash on neighbors’ doorsteps.” and apparently creativity is encouraged in this endeavor. I don’t have any crops of zucchini but I will share some recipes and tips.

Zucchini can be used as pasta in any recipe, delicious, low carb and gluten-free.

To make ribbons like papperdelle, uses a regular vegetable peeler and make thin strips, yo can leave the skin on or off.

To make smaller “noodles” use a julienne peeler. Available at most home stores and cooking shops.

Now just add your favorite sauce, no cooking required. The heat of the sauce will warm the zucchini without making it too soft or watery.

Also try Zucchini Orange Salad

 

Greek Stuffed Zucchini

And my favorite, Calabacitas

What is your favorite way to eat zucchini, or sneak it on to someone’s porch?

I’m a Little Bit Country: Classic Tomato Pie

As much as I like big bold flavors and exotic dishes, sometimes I just have to get back to my roots. Born and raised in the South, comfort cooking will always have a place in my heart and kitchen. One of my favorite recipes is old-fashioned tomato pie. I love this easy, take anywhere, dish. The tomatoes have been good here the last couple of weeks so I decided to whip one up. These are great for a vegetarian dinner, bring along to a potluck, picnic or party or as a side to some classic southern fried chicken.

1 9″ pie crust cooked ( I used the frozen variety)

2 large ripe tomatoes sliced

2 T chopped fresh basil

1 c mayonnaise

1/2 c cheddar cheese

1/2 c mozzarella cheese

1 T chopped chives

Salt

Cut tomatoes in slices, place in colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 20 min, so juices run out. Preheat over to 350.

Place a layer tomatoes in bottom of cooked pie crust

Sprinkle with chopped basil, then repeat with another layer of tomatoes and basil.

Mix mayo, chives and cheeses in a medium sized bowl

Spoon mounds of the mixture on top of the pie

Then smooth out evenly over pie and bake for 30 minutes or until top is browned.

Let cool before slicing, serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken, Peach, and Bacon Club with Basil Mayo

Honestly I am not a fan of sandwiches, too boring, but when my good friend mentioned something about a BLT using peaches instead of tomatoes, I was instantly intrigued. I thought what a great flavor combo, bacon and peaches hmmm….. Well I had chicken sandwiches on the menu anyway so why not go that extra step, peaches are after all in season. I am so glad I did, this was fantastic, the whole family raved about them and the combination of flavors is one of my newest cravings. These will make it on the menu several more times before peach season is over.

Chicken, Peach and Bacon Club with Basil Mayo

for 4 sandwiches

4 chicken cutlets

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T + 1 t olive oil

1 T fresh chopped basil

1/3 c mayo

8 slices of whole wheat or your favorite bread, toasted

2 ripe peaches sliced thin

1/2-1 c arugula

5 sliced of cooked bacon

salt and pepper

Place raw chicken in a shallow dish, add 1 T oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, marinate 15 minutes and then grill or broil until done.

In a small bowl combine, mayo, basil, 1/4 t pepper and 1 t oil.

Assembly time!

Smear mayo on one slice of toasted bread

Add a layer of peaches

Add a layer of arugula

Add Bacon slices

Add a grilled chicken cutlet

Top with the other piece of toasted bread with more mayo if desired, cut in half and serve, delicious