Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Salmon and Roasted Vegetables

I on occasion will make a stop at this really great grocery store near where we live.  I don't go there often because I have a tendency to spend a considerable chunk of money.  Today I was only planning on getting really one thing.  We all know how that is when you say that you end up with so much more.  When I am in this store I am usually inspired and buy what I need based on what I am thinking we will want for dinner that night.  Today was no different.

I begin in the vegetable section and work my way through the store.  I first picked up some eggplant but not your typical purple eggplant.  This was a sicilian type which is smaller and has a purple skin streaked with white. I then grab a yellow bell pepper, and some asparagus.  I am at this point putting a dish together in my head.  I am leaning toward roasted vegetables.  I have some small tomatoes at home that I can add to this dish.

I then head over to the seafood counter where I purchase 2 beautiful Copper River Sockeye Salmon fillets.  I have no idea what I am going to do with it at this point but I now have dinner in hand.

So here is what I did with my purchases:

Cut up the eggplant into bite size pieces, slice the yellow bell pepper into small strips, snap off the bottom portion of the asparagus (to do this just grasp the stalk with both hands and bend, the asparagus will naturally break off the section that is tough leaving the tender section).  Cut in half cherry tomatoes (I used one small package).   Add all of the vegetables to a ziploc bag.  Add 4 cloves of garlic that have been peeled, some fresh rosemary sprigs and some extra virgin olive oil.  Shake the bag to move around the vegetables to incorporate the olive oil.  Pour contents of bag onto a cookie sheet and lightly sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and a small amount of salt.  Bake in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes.  You want the vegetables to be soft and flavorful.  About every 15 to 20 minutes flip the vegetables over to move them around to help incorporate the flavors.

For the salmon:

This recipe is one from the Food Network.  The recipe actually calls for it to be grilled but it is cold outside not to mention dark so grilling is out of the question.  I made this in the oven instead.  Also, we plan on eating this for lunch tomorrow.

2 large salmon fillets
extra virgin olive oil
about 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
8 lemon slices
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine (I used a chardonnay)
4 teaspoon capers
2 large pieces of foil

Drizzle the top and bottom of the salmon with olive oil.  Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper and the chopped rosemary.  Place the each fish filet on a piece of foil.  Lay the foil on a baking sheet (it will make it easier to get in and out of the oven and you won't have to worry about any leaks).  Make sure the foil is large enough so that you can fold it to keep the fish and juices inside.  Pour equal amounts of the lemon juice and wine over each.  Add 4 lemon slices to each and 2 teaspoons of capers.  Wrap the salmon tight.  Place in 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 18 minutes.  You don't want to over cook the fish so take it out at 15 minutes to see if it is done.  Serve with lemon slices and some of the juice.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Here is the recipe I made for our Christmas Eve dinner.

2 pounds Lasagna noodles (You will only need about a box and a half)
41/2 cups tomato sauce (I used a sauce that I got from a friend, it contains: diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chopped onions, garlic, basil, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, salt, red wine and black pepper)
1 pound ricotta cheese
16 ounces fresh mozzarella (you can either slice or shred)
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 pound ground beef
1 can of black olives, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Cook the sausage and beef together.  Drain off fat.  Boil 6 quarts of water, add pinch of salt, and cook pasta to almost done. Remove from water and shock in ice bath.  In a 10-by-14-by-3-inch baking pan or dish, pour 1 cup of tomato sauce in bottom and around sides. Layer lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan, overlapping by 1/2-inch. Add 1/3 amount of ricotta, 1/3 amount of mozzarella, 1/3 amount of sausage, then sprinkle generously with the Parmesan, add 1/2 cup tomato sauce.  In the process of layering add a layer of the chopped black olives.  Repeat this 2 more times.   On the very top sheet, top with remaining ricotta, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and dust with Parmesan. Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately 45 minutes until cheese is nice and bubbly. Remove from oven; let sit for 15 minutes. Cut and serve immediately.  

Along with this dinner we had a side salad, garlic bread and a 2005 bottle of Castello Di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cocktails

Some of the family decided to make some festive cocktails.  There is a really cool app that you can get on your android phone.  It is a really great app because you can choose all of the alcohol you have in your cabinet.  The app is called Cocktail Flow.

Here is what we made:

Black Santa
2 parts Vodka
1/2 part Peppermint Schnapps
1 part coffee liquer (we used Kahlua)
Ice Cubes
Put ice cubes in an old fashioned glass.  Pour the ingredients into the glass.  Stir together.

Peppermint Patty
1 part Peppermint Schnapps
1 part Vodka
1 part White Creme De Cacao
1 part Half and Half (1:1 milk & cream)
Ice cubes
Add ice cubes to the shaker.  Pour the ingredients into the shaker, shake.  Strain into a martini glass.  Serve with a candy cane.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
1 part White Rum
4 parts Cranberry Juice
1/2 part Grenadine
Ice Cubes
Lime Wedge
Fill the collins glass half way with ice.  Pour all ingredients into glass except for cranberry juice.  Stir together.  Fill up cranberry juice.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Winter Chill
2 parts Vodka
1 part Blue Curacao
1 part Triple Sec
1 part Lime Juice
Ice Cubes
Add ice cubes to the shaker.  Pour ingredients into the shaker, shake.  Strain into a martini glass.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This is such a simple and easy recipe.  I made it in my Vitamix blender but you could easily mix this in a regular blender.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 slice lemon, peeled, seeded
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled (if using a regular blender I would crush it)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Place all ingredients into blender except artichoke hearts.  Blend until slightly smooth but still chunky, add artichokes and blend a little bit more.  Pour into dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

I served it with a bread baguette that was heated in the oven while the dip was cooking and then slice into small slices.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was going to make many more cookies than just these two, but realized that by making more means that I would be eating more as well.  I decided since I started so late that I would just make 2 favorites.

Here is my all time favorite peanut butter cookie.  I love this recipe because the cookies turn out flavorful, light and very peanut buttery.

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup non-hydogentated shortening
1 cup peanut butter (this is what makes the cookie awesome, I use Organic Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter (no stir) - Out of all the peanut butters I have tried over the years this one is the best)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour

Cream sugars, shortening and butter.  Add peanut butter and mix well.  Add eggs and mix well.  Add baking soda, salt and vanilla.  Gradually add flour.  Drop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet with a scoop (this saves you from hand rolling each cookie).  To flatten the cookies use a fork.  The trick I learned is to use a fork dipped in sugar instead of flour (a lot of recipes tell you to use flour).  For the first dip slightly push the fork against some of the cookie dough that is in the bowl, then dip the fork into the sugar and press across the top of the cookie going both directions to give it a waffle pattern.  Don't push down too hard just enough to leave an impression.  Once all the cookies have been flattened sprinkle a little bit of sugar over the tops.  Bake in a 367 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 - 12 minutes.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

For the chocolate chip cookies I actually used the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip bag.  This is really just a basic cookie recipe and you could use any kind or brand of chocolate chips you want.

2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt.  Beat butter with sugars until creamy.  Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated.  Gradually add dry ingredients into creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by Scoop fulls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chicken Asparagus Quiche

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the leftover roast chicken from the other night.  I didn't want to go with the same old, same old tried and true chicken pot pie.  I decided to do a quiche.  You can pretty much make quiche with any ingredients as long as you have the basics.  Here is what I did:

Use about 2 cups chicken that has been cut into bite size pieces.  I cheated and used a pre-made pie crust. I get these crusts from the local co-op which are made with quality organic ingredients.  These crusts are great if you want to make something and don't want to take the time and make your own pie crust.

I thawed out a bag of frozen asparagus, dried it off and laid several pieces into the bottom of the pie crust (I left the asparagus whole), add the chicken on top of that, add about 1-1/2 cups of grated cheese (I used a mix of white sharp cheddar, mild cheddar and parmesan).  Beat together 6 eggs and 1-1/2 cups of heavy cream, beat in a little salt and pepper.   Pour mixture over the asparagus, chicken and cheese.  Make sure that you have your pie crust sitting on a cookie sheet lined with foil (this helps in case the quiche decides to run over).  Mine did run over a little bit.  Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until it is set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Roast Chicken

I want to start off by apologizing that I haven't posted in a while.  With many different holiday get togethers I haven't really spent much time in the kitchen.  I plan to make up for that this week as I begin making some holiday cookies.

Here is what I did with the chicken:

1 onion, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
2 tablespoons Herbs of Provence (an herb mix of thyme, basil, savory, fennel seeds, lavender flowers)
1 cup white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc by Cupcake Vineyards out of New Zealand)
1 stick of butter
Drizzle of olive oil

I took a 2 pound pastured chicken, rinsed it off and patted it dry.  Into a roaster pan I added some of the cut onions and a few slices of lemon.  Place some of the onion and lemon slices inside the cavity of the chicken.  Place chicken in roaster.  Add remainder of onion and lemons to the inside of the pan next to the chicken.  Slice the butter and put butter in the cavity and other areas in and around the chicken.  Add one cup of wine.  Over the top of the chicken drizzle a little olive oil and the herbs.  Place in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for about 2 hours.  You need to make sure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degree Fahrenheit.  Once in a while baste the chicken with the juices.  Once cooked take the chicken out of the pan to rest, remove the onion and lemon from the pan and place on stove top to cook the juices in the pan.  What you want to do is reduce the amount by at least half by boiling.  Serve the sauce over the chicken.

Along with the chicken we also had brown rice and cooked spinach.

You need 1 cup of water (I used 1/2 cup of the wine (see above) and 1/2 cup of water) and 1/2 cup of rice.  Combine rice and water; bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 50 minutes.  After 50 minutes remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

This post is linked on Monday Mania by the Healthy Home Economist

Thursday, December 15, 2011

German Knockwurt with Red Cabbage and Spatzle

I pulled some knockwurst from the freezer for tonight's dinner.  I had a jar of German red cabbage.  I took the knockwurst and put them into a pan and dumped the entire jar in over top of the knockwurst.  To it I added about 1/4 cup of water.  Some red cabbage has a lot of juice and some don't for the ones that don't you need to add just a little bit of water.  I let the knockwurst and cabbage cook together, occasionally stirring, for about 1 hour.

Here is the recipe for Spatzle (a type of egg noodle).

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3 eggs slightly beaten
1 cup water

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a bowl; make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs and water and mix.
Scoop  dough on to a spoon and use another spoon to break dough off into small pieces into a pot of boiling salted water.  (You can use a spatzle maker which looks like a fancy cheese grater.  I have one but hate to use it because it is quicker for me to use the spoons).  The spatzle will float to the top of the water when they are done.  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl with a little bit of butter, toss.

The meal was served with a wine from Hickory Hill Vineyards.  The wine is called Smith Mountain Lake Country Red  (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Swordfish with Herb Sauce

I pulled some swordfish fillets out of the freezer for dinner tonight.  I decided to make an herb sauce to go along with the fish.

Here is what I did:

Mix together and refrigerate to help incorporate flavors:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

Butter an 8 inch square baking dish.  Spread some herb mixture on each side of the fish and place fish in baking dish.

Place dish into refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  This will give the sauce a chance to stay adhered to the fish.  Pour 1/2 cup of Chardonnay (I used King Family Chardonnay - this is also the same wine we served with the meal) the fish.  Place fish into a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven and cook for about 20 minutes until fish is flaky.  Toward the end of cooking baste the fish with the wine.  Serve leftover sauce on the side.

Along with this I made a sweet potato mash.

Sweet Potato Mash
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
Heavy cream, heated
Cook the sweet potatoes in a pan of salted water and cook until soft.  Drain sweet potatoes and add to a bowl along with 2 tablespoons of butter.  Mash sweet potatoes and butter.  Blend with a hand held mixer until smooth.  Add some heavy cream and continue to mix.  Add about 1/4 cup of maple syrup and mix.  Add more cream to get the consistency you want.  Add a sprinkling of salt and some fresh ground pepper.

A side salad was also on the menu for tonight. The salad consisted of greens, carrots, tomatoes and some dried cranberries.

French Dressing
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup olive oil

Put all contents into a jar and shake until mixed.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sausage Pepper and Onion Sandwiches

Wanted to make some kind of sandwich with the sausage I bought at our local cooperative store.  The sausage is a Sweet Italian Chicken and Turkey.  I took 1 green bell pepper and 1 orange bell pepper and sliced them along with 1 onion.  I added them to a hot pan and cooked until soft.  I then added the sausage to the pan.  I then added a whole bottle of Yuengling beer and let the beer simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.  

Add a link of sausage to a roll with a couple of slices of tomato, the onions and peppers and two slices of Muenster cheese.

To go along with the sandwiches I cooked some organic tater tots.  

Cinnamon French Toast

We get this really great bread from our local co-op store.  It is a Portuguese Sweet Bread.  The bread is really great for sandwiches but it really makes a nice french toast.

Here is what I did:

I took 3 eggs and beat them in shallow dish, added some heavy cream (I happened to have this open in the refrigerator, but milk will work just fine) and beat until smooth.  Add a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon (use enough so that it mixes in) and a splash of pure vanilla.  Mix well.  Add bread one slice at a time coating each side.  Place bread slices onto a heated skillet.  Flip bread as it begins to slightly brown.

I served our french toast with canned peaches and maple syrup.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rice Noodles with Chicken and Mushrooms

I had some chicken breasts that I wanted to cook for tonight's dinner.  Sometimes I do not have a plan for the rest of dinner until the last minute and then I throw something together.   Tonight was one of those nights.  I had a box of rice noodles in the pantry so I decided this was where I wanted to go with dinner.  On the box was a recipe.  I used the recipe but varied it slightly based on what I had available.  I think however that the next time I make this I will add some vegetables.  I think vegetables would add color as well as some great taste.

Here is what I did:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 of a large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
12 ounces of chicken breast, cut up into bite size pieces (If you have more chicken than this the recipe can handle it)
1 bag of frozen mushrooms, thawed and drained (I keep a bag of mushrooms in the freezer so that I can have mushrooms anytime - the kind I use has a variety of mushrooms in the bag)
1 - 8 ounce package of rice noodles (soak noodles in hot water for 10 minutes while you are cooking everything else)

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons chicken broth
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon tamari

Heat oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until golden.  Add chicken and stir fry until chicken is cooked, then add mushrooms.  Remove from heat and stir fry for another 1 to 2 minutes.  Combine ingredients for sauce.  Add sauce, noodles to cooked chicken and mix well.  Garnish with cilantro (I only had dried cilantro so I used it) and lime wedges.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Bran Muffins

I have a sourdough starter that I have to refresh each week.  Sometimes I make something with it, sometimes I don't (sometimes I just don't have the time).  Today after refreshing the sourdough I knew that I had enough time to make something.  I chose sourdough bran muffins.

Here is what I did:

I refreshed the sourdough yesterday late afternoon and left it overnight.  This morning I pulled the starter and placed in the refrigerator and made this:   Combine 1/2 cup fresh starter with 1-1/4 cups warm water and 1-1/2 cups flour.  Set in a warm place until bubbly, (several hours). To this sourdough batter, combine:
1 cup of oat bran
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla (This is not a part of the normal recipe, but added for some extra flavor)
Combine these next 3 ingredients together dry in a separate bowl.
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
Add dry ingredients to the sourdough and stir.
Stir in:
1 cup of golden raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Drop into muffin tins (I used unbleached large baking cups in my 12 cup muffin tin).

I sprinkled the top of each muffin with a little cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes or until they spring to the touch.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cream of Onion Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

It finally turned a little cooler where I felt like I could make soup once again for dinner.  This recipe is actually from a Julia Child Cookbook.  A dear friend of mine gave me a 1966 edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and a 1970 edition of Volume Two - Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  If you can believe this, this is actually the first recipe I have made from either book.  This recipe came from Volume Two.  The soup is wonderful and eating it was a pure slice of heaven.

3 to 4 cups of sliced onions (I used 3 medium to large sized yellow onions)
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot water
2 cups chicken broth (I make my own, here is the recipe)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
1/3 cup white rice (not instant)
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste (in the recipe it calls for white pepper, I prefer to use fresh ground pepper and don't mind if I see the pepper in my soup)

Cook onions in the butter until tender but not browned.  (I covered the pot while the onions were cooking which helped them to cook).  Add curry and cook 1 minute, then add flour and cook 2 minutes without browning.  Remove from heat, stir in the hot water, then add chicken broth and wine.  Bring to a simmer and sprinkle in the rice; add bay leaf, and season to taste.  Simmer 30 minutes then puree.  It didn't state in the recipe to remove the bay leaf before pureeing but I removed it.  I don't have an immersion blender so I had to ladle my soup into a blender, blend the soup and add it back into the pot.

2 to 3 cups of milk (I ended up using almost 3 cups)
1/2 cup of heavy cream
4 tablespoons soft butter
3 tablespoons minced parsley

Bring soup to a simmer.  Thin out to desired consistency with milk, stir in the cream, and carefully correct seasoning.  (I use a homemade broth that doesn't have any salt in it, if you use commercial broth be careful how much salt you use)  Reheat again to simmer just before serving; remove from heat and stir in the butter, then the parsley.

We also had grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with the soup.  Take bread and lightly butter the inside of the bread.  Add cheese  slices (we used cheddar and a smoked gouda).  Spread butter on the outside slice of bread and place buttered side down on a hot skillet, butter the other side.  Flip when ready and cook.

The meal was served with a 2008 Chateau Morrisette Chardonnay.

This post is linked on Sunday Night Soup Night - Easy Natural Food.


Decided to make biscuits this morning.  I love a egg, cheese and tomato biscuit.

Here is my recipe for biscuits:
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up in small pieces
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening
1 cup heavy cream

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add butter and shortening.  Use forks to cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles crumbs.  Make a well in the center and add cream. Stir until dough comes together and is sticky.  Put onto a lightly floured counter and gently fold dough over a couple of times to incorporate the ingredients.  Roll out to about 1 inch thick and use a biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits (If you don't have a biscuit cutter a clean open ended can will work).  Reform dough and continue to cut until all dough is used.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (If you use parchment paper they won't stick).  Place in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.  You can brush some melted butter on the top of the biscuits when they come out of the oven if you want.

I added a cooked egg, a slice of cheddar cheese and a slice of tomato.  For the egg, beat one egg and pour into a hot pan.  Cook on one side and then flip, cook until done.  Fold and add to biscuit.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Almond Milk

I thought I would give it a try and make Almond Milk.  I wanted to try a non dairy alternative.  I have a vitamix blender, but I think that if you had a powerful blender you can make it as well.  I figure that I would use it on cereal and in protein smoothies.

3 cups water
1 cup raw almonds
sugar or sweetener, to taste

Place all ingredients into blender.  Blend for about 2 minutes or until desired consistency.  I strained the blended mixture which got rid of the pulp.  I think it tastes okay.  I did add a tiny bit of sugar.  I will taste it again once it is fully chilled.

According to the nutritional information for 1 cup of milk = 239 calories, 9 grams of protein, 21 gram total fat, 8 gram carbohydrates, 5 gram fiber.

Here is the picture I took of the finished product.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Beef Roast

I have been hungry for a beef roast for a while and finally decided to get one out of the freezer.    I just put some things together to cook the roast.

Here is what I did:

1 - 3 pound grassfed rump beef roast which I seared in a dutch oven on top of the stove.  I then added a cut up red onion, some carrots (cut into chunks), a couple of garlic cloves (they were small), 2 bay leafs, a couple of springs of fresh thyme, a handful of fresh parsley.  I added about 1/2 cup of tomato paste (I had some that was in the freezer that I thawed), 2 cups of beef broth and 1 bottle of red wine (I used a Cabernet Franc from King Family Vineyards).  I poured the wine over everything and brought the mixture to a boil.  I placed the dutch oven with the lid on it into a 350 degree Fahrenheit pre-heated oven.  Cook for about 1-1/2 hours until the internal temperature reached 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

I chose potatoes to go with the roast.  I peeled the potatoes, cut them into chunks, put them into a pan of water and cooked until tender.  Drained and added them to a bowl with a little butter and some chopped fresh parsley.

To go along with the rest of this meal is cooked spinach and a side salad (greens, tomatoes).

This post is linked on The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Tonight I didn't have a plan until very late in the day.  I decided on spaghetti with a meat sauce.  I don't normally use a store bought pre-made sauce but I happened to have some in my pantry (have no idea why).

I had some beef sausage.  The sausage comes from Mountain Run Farm.  The sausage has the same flavor as a pork Italian sausage, but is beef.  The pasta sauce I used is made by Newman's Own and was a Vodka Sauce.  I cooked some cappelini pasta and added it to the cooked beef sausage sauce mix.

Also had a salad with tomatoes, blue cheese and a balsamic vinegar, olive oil dressing.


Paired dinner with a 2005 Familia Cara Chianti Classico Riserva.  Bottle by C. Camp. Gello, PI, Italy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner

Here is everything I cooked for our Thanksgiving day.  One thing you will notice a lack of is stuffing.  I decided I wanted to stay away from the really filling and calorie loaded bread.

I got this recipe for our turkey from Chef Todd Schneider at the Virginia Executive Mansion.  He has many recipes posted on this site.

Our turkey has come from Auburnlea Farms in Gladys, Virginia.  The turkey is pastured raised and all natural.  The turkey is 17-1/2 pounds.

Here is the recipe.
1 bottle of dry Virginia Wine (I used Chardonnay from King Family Vineyards in Crozet, Virginia)
4 cups water
Fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
1 stick butter
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves fresh garlic
1 red onion, quartered
4 celery stalks, cut in 2 inch pieces
4 whole carrots, 2 inch cuts
1 teaspoon paprika

Make sure the giblets, neck and liver are out of the bird.  Do not throw them away.  Wash the turkey with cold water inside and out, pat dry with paper towels (inside also).

Take some of the herbs and garlic cloves and put them in the end of the cavity.  Add a little salt and pepper to cavity.  Put onions, carrots, celery and fresh herbs in the turkey.  Pour olive oil all over turkey and rub it in.  Sprinkle, salt, pepper and paprika on the turkey.  Take butter cubes and tuck in crevices on the turkey and sprinkle in pan.  Take the giblets, liver and neck and put them in the pan with fresh herbs (whole), garlic cloves and vegetables.  Add about 2 cups of water and white wine.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put foil over turkey.  Place in oven for 1 hour (this is key, it's called blasting the bird) then after 1 hour turn the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Baste turkey and leave foil on.  Continue to baste turkey every half hour.  When basting the turkey check the skin, you may need to add more water and wine to the pan.  Take the foil off the last hour of cooking.  Let turkey get to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, let sit for 15 minutes before carving.

Take the juices from the pan add a pat of butter and bring to a boil.  Add some homemade chicken broth to make enough gravy.  To thicken it I use Arrowroot.

Cosmopolitan Cranberries
1 - 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed, drained, and picked through
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vodka
3 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur

In medium saucepan over moderate heat, combine cranberries, sugar and 1/2 cup water.   Bring to boil, stirring often to dissolve sugar, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, stirring often, until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups, about 15 minutes.
Transfer to medium bowl and cool, stirring often, until tepid, about 30 minutes.  Stir in vodka and liqueur.  Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and refrigerator until chilled and set, at least 2 hours.  (Sauce can be made up to 2 weeks ahead and refrigerated).  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Corn Pudding
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
6 cups frozen corn (I am using the corn that we froze during the summer)

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together eggs, cream and butter.  Gradually add sugar mixture, whisking until smooth; stir in corn.  Pour into a lightly greased oblong baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes or until golden brown and set.  Stick a knife blade into the middle and it will be done when it comes out pretty clean.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Steamed Green Beans with Walnuts
Steam green beans until done but still crisp.  In a skillet add some butter and chopped walnuts cook until walnuts are coated and have released their oil and are fragrant.  Add cooked green beans.  Saute beans just enough to coat.

Steamed Carrots
Peel carrots and cut into slices.  Add carrots to steamer and steam until done.  Place in dish and toss with a little bit of butter.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Peel sweet potatoes, cut into bite size chunks.  Place sweet potatoes in a ziploc bag along with a little bit of fresh sage.  Add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, just enough enough to coat.  Shake bag to coat sweet potatoes.   Dump sweet potatoes out of the bag and onto a cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender.

Also included for dinner was fruit salad and dinner rolls provided by family members.

Pecan Pie and Apple Pie

Slowly I am getting ready for Thanksgiving.  I figure I would start with the desserts.

Here is my favorite recipe for pecan pie.  It isn't super sweet like most pecan pies.  I also have to admit that for the pecan pie I used a pre-made crust.  It is from a company that uses organic ingredients.  I actually wanted to shorten my time in the kitchen just by a little bit.  However, the crust for the apple pie I did make from scratch.

Pecan Pie
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup molasses (I use a full flavor unsulphured made by Brier Rabbit)
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup pecans
1 - 8 inch unbaked pie shell

Cream butter, sugar and eggs.  Add molasses, flour, vanilla, and salt.  Stir in water and pecans.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes; then at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.

Here is my favorite apple pie.  I have been using this recipe for years and just love it.

Apple Pie
6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (I use a mixture of different kinds of apples)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
dash of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter

If apples lack tartness add 1 tablespoon lemon juice.  Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add sugar mixture to apples and mix together.  Pour into bottom crust and top with butter.  Add top crust and seal edges.  Brush crust with an egg wash of egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon of water.  Sprinkle of with sugar.  Cover edge of pie with foil.  Bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.  Remove foil; bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden.

Pie crust
2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup chilled lard or non-hydrogenated solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 tablespoons or more of ice water

Place flour, sugar in salt into food processor.  Add butter and lard using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is moist and forms a ball.  Transfer to a bowl and mix together by hand.  Add more water if needed.  Divide dough in half.  Wrap each half in saran wrap and flatten into a disk.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  This makes 2 pie crusts.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lemon Chicken

I had no true plan when I made dinner tonight.  I knew that I wanted to do something with the chicken breasts I had, so I started with them flattened and dredged but beyond that I had no idea what I was going to do.  I began with the chicken and then went from there.  I had some lemons and thought lemon squeezed onto the chicken at the table would be nice, but then I decided to make a little sauce with some lemon juice and wine.  So here is what I did.

Place chicken breasts between pieces saran wrap and pound chicken breast with a rolling pin until flattened to about 1/2 inch.
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken in an egg that has been beaten and then dredge in bread crumbs.
Cook breasts in a hot skillet with butter and olive oil until lightly browned and done.  Pour about 1/2 cup of white wine into the pan (I used a chardonnay) and juice from 1 lemon.  Stir until you have loosened the bits on the bottom of the pan and cook until the mixture has reduced some.  Serve over the cooked chicken.  Add a couple of lemon wedges for a touch more lemon.

I also made a couscous with frozen peas as a side dish.  I took about a half bag of frozen peas and added that to 1-1/4 cups of water.  Boil water and then add 1 cup of couscous, stir, cover, remove from burner and let sit for about 10-15 minutes.  Fluff with fork.

Also made a side salad to go with the meal.  A mix of greens, tomato and a little blue cheese.  The dressing was just a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quick and Easy

Really wanted something quick and easy for dinner tonight.  With the preparations of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday I didn't want to do too much cooking.

I bought a sun-dried tomato chicken sausage today at our local Co-op.  The ingredients in the sausage was simple.  Pastured chicken, garlic, sea salt, sun-dried tomato, tomato flakes, basil and black pepper.  The sausage had a really nice taste.

I cooked the sausage in a skillet until browned.  While the sausage was cooking I added a chopped up green pepper.  I cooked the green pepper until the pepper has just softened.

I cooked some egg noodle pasta.  Add the cooked pasta to a bowl with a little bit of butter, added the cooked green pepper.  Also added a chopped tomato.  The warmth of the cooked pasta warmed the tomato.  Add the sliced sausage.  Mix together.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cincinnati Chili

I wanted to make chili tonight but couldn't decide what I wanted to make.  I came across this recipe for Cincinnati Chili.  Of course I tweaked the recipe to make it my own.

1 pound ground beef (I always use grass fed beef products)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I actually buy whole cumin and grind it myself, it has a much stronger taste.  Just use a coffee grinder to grind it to the consistency you want but DO NOT use the same grinder you use for coffee.  It is always better to have one dedicated to just spices)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 cans (14.5 ounce)can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 ounce (1/2 square) unsweetened chocolate, grated
12 ounces spaghetti, cooked (use any type of spaghetti - wheat, rice, etc)
3 tablespoons butter
1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, heated (optional)
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated (I used sharp and extra sharp)
Chopped raw onion (optional)
Crackers (optional)

In a large dutch oven, cook ground beef, onion, and garlic, stirring often to break up lumps of meat, until beef loses its pink color, about 5 minutes.  Add chili powder, salt, cinnamon, cumin, basil, oregano, allspice, and pepper.  Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, beef broth, vinegar, and chocolate; break up tomatoes with large spoon.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until thickened, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, adding more beef broth if chili gets too thick.

Toss cooked spaghetti into butter. 

Place spaghetti in bowls, top with chili.  Add onion, kidney beans, crackers and cheese to your liking.

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Sourdough Pancakes with Banana Smoothie

There is nothing better than a breakfast with homemade pancakes.  I have this recipe that came with my sourdough starter.  I also added a banana smoothie to go along with this breakfast  The smoothie is also a great way to get a protein filled breakfast if you are in a hurry.

Sourdough Pancakes

Combine 1/2 cup fresh starter, 2 cups warm water and 2-1/2 cups flour.  Set aside in a warm place until bubbly.
To this batter add:
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
Add 2 beaten eggs and thin the batter with milk to desired consistency.  Add 1/4 cup of batter to a hot skillet and cook until bubbly and flip over and continue to cook until done.  Serve with maple syrup or your favorite fruit.

Banana Smoothie

2 ripe bananas, peeled and frozen (this is great if you have ripe bananas and don't know what to do with them, just peel and freeze and then you are all set for a smoothie)
2 cups milk (you can any milk you choose, I have used soy as well as cow's milk)
8 ice cubes
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.  Will make 2 big glasses of smoothie.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baked Salmon

I love salmon and this recipe that I found is wonderful, simple and cooks the fish perfectly.

3/4 cup dry white wine (I usually use a Chardonnay, which pairs great with this dish)
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/3 cup spicy brown mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit On a cookie sheet, add a piece of foil and place salmon on top of foil.  Sprinkle salmon with pepper.   Add wine, butter and seasoning to a small saucepan and cook until mixture boils, cook for 2 minutes.  Pour liquid over salmon and place in center of oven.  Cook for 14 minutes until fish is opaque.  Mix brown sugar and mustard together.  Remove from oven.  Preheat broiler to high.  Spread mustard mixture onto top of salmon and put into oven for about 3 minutes until top is brown and bubbling. 

I added some cooked quinoa to go along with this dish. 

1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup quinoa

Add water and broth to a pot, bring to boil.  Add quinoa, cover, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until all water has been absorbed.

A little cooked spinach (frozen) and a side salad rounded out this meal.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken Manhattan

I found this recipe in a "365 Ways to Cook Chicken " Cookbook years ago.  It is a great recipe and tonight I adapted it to what I had available.

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/4 inch thickness
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
4 slices Swiss cheese (the recipe calls for provolone cheese, but I had Swiss available)
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used a chardonnay from King Family Vineyards in Virgina)

Place bread crumbs and egg in separate shallow dishes.  Dip chicken in egg' then dredge in bread crumbs to coat.  In a large pan, heat oil  over medium heat.  Add chicken and cook about 4 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken to a platter, cover and keep warm.  In pan, add butter and melt over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, saute until beginning to soften about 2 minutes.  Add spinach and nutmeg.  Mix well and cook until heated through.  Add chicken back to pan, top with spinach mixture.  Arrange cheese slices on top.  Add wine and cover.  Cook about 5 minutes until cheese is melted and chicken is tender.

Use the extra amount of spinach as the side for this dish. 

To this I added a small side salad of lettuce, tomato, carrots and a small sprinkling of blue cheese.  I used a dressing of extra virgin olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chicken Salad

Really wanted something simple and easy for dinner tonight so I decided to make a salad.

I sprinkled chicken breasts with some fresh ground pepper and a little bit of a chicken seasoning rub.
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried oregano

Sauteed the chicken until it was done.  Sliced it and added it to a bed of green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, salad beans (combination of kidney beans and garbanzo beans), carrots, blue cheese crumbles and half of an avocado.

Served with a mixture of olive oil and red wine vinegar.