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.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bavarian Style Cube Steak

I have this recipe from many years ago that actually came on a package of cube steak.  I decided to adapt it this time and liked it much better. The original version uses packaged mushroom gravy mix.   Here is my version.

4 beef cubed steaks (1 to 1-1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups homemade chicken broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 package of frozen mixed mushrooms (thaw and drain)
2 teaspoons arrowroot (arrowroot is a starch, similar in texture to corn starch)

In a large skillet, quickly brown steaks on both sides in hot oil.  Add onion, cook til onion is almost tender about 5 minutes.  Combine broth and arrowroot, whisk together.  Add broth, mushrooms, brown sugar, red wine vinegar and caraway seeds. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until sauce thickens.

I served this with buttered noodles.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Meatloaf with Mac and Cheese

When the weathr turns a little colder I love traditional comfort food like meatloaf.

Tonight I took
1 pound of ground beef
1/4 of a green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 small cloves of garlic, diced
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Mix all ingredients together and form into a loaf.  Bake at 375 degrees Farenheit for about 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes spread on a topping of tomato sauce, 1/8 to 1/4 cup of molasses, a sprinkling of garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley.  Mix up and spread on meatloaf.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes until done.

Here is the recipe for the macaroni and cheese sauce.  You can do this same recipe on the stove in a double boiler (just heat the first ingredients and then add the cheese until it melts).

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups of cooked elbow macaroni
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups milk
1 cup cubed american cheese or other mild yellow cheese (I used a sharp cheddar)

Mix sauce with cooked macaroni in a 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with a non stick cooking spray.   Add a bread crumb topping and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven.