Monthly Archives: November 2011

Grampa Tom’s Turkey Tetrazzini

Mr17’s Grampa Tom is one amazing cook.  This is most evident around the outdoor griddle at the cabin and at Thanksgiving.  Tom is the master of Thankgiving leftovers; most famous for his “Pilgrim Stew” and this fast, easy and delish Turkey Tetrazzini.

When I’m buying groceries for Thanksgiving, I always toss in an extra tub of sour cream (light), mushrooms and sliced mushrooms.  I know I’m gonna want to make “the tetrazzini,” it’s Mr17’s favorite.

  • 1 1/2-2 cups shredded turkey (I use a mix of light and dark.)
  • 1-2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 package sliced almonds
  • 1-1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 package pasta of your choice, prepared (Or use leftover pasta if you have it!)
  • reserved pasta water

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, reserving a cup of pasta water.

Saute mushrooms in 3-4 TBSP butter.

Return cooked pasta to pot and add sauteed mushrooms, celery, almonds, turkey, and sour cream.  Stir to combine, add a bit of pasta water to help make it easier to mix if needed.

Add cheese, stir to combine.

Serve with a garnish of grated parmesan and a sprinkling of black pepper.  Mmmm!

How’s that for easy comfort food?!  It’s also delish garnished with a some chopped green onions.  Take some for lunch the next day–even more yummy!

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Turkey Pot Pie

If you cooked a turkey this Thanksgiving, chances are you’ve got leftovers.  There are lots and lots of options for using leftover turkey, but I’m here to tell ya–try turkey pot pie!!!  Now, I’m not talking bland and boring Swanson-style (no offense, Swanson fans), I’m talking super flavor-y, spicy, warm, gooey little pots of turkey yumminess that you’ll plan an extra pound of turkey to have leftover for next year!

Gather up some turkey and a few other items:

  • 1 premade, rolled pie crust
  • 1-1 1/2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 2 small potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bag frozen corn
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 lb or so turkey, shredded into bite-size pieces  (I used dark meat; I like the heavier flavor in soups, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350F and assemble eight 4-oz ramekins on a cookie sheet.  (Really, any oven-safe container will work.  I just got these little ramekins, and am still enamored by them!)

In a medium sauce pan, combine soup along with enough milk or half and half to get a thick but workable consistancy.  (Keep the milk handy in case you need to thin it a bit later.)  Add the green chiles.

Add corn and turkey, stir to combine.

Meanwhile, cube and boil the potatoes until fork tender.

And saute the onion and garlic until translucent and aromatic.

Add potatoes, onion and garlic to the pan.

Add shredded cheese, stir to combine.

Divide filling evenly between your containers.

Divide pie crust into eight sections (or how many you need for the containers you’re using) and roll into circles 1/2 inch larger than your containers.

Mix 1 egg and 1 TBSP water to make an egg wash.

Brush egg wash onto the rim and top part of the sides of each container.  Place pastry on top, press to adhere and cut 3 slits to let steam escape.

Brush the tops and sides of all the pastry with egg wash, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bake 25-30 minutes (or possibly a bit longer if using a larger container), until tops are golden brown and inside is bubbly.  You’ll be able to hear the filling bubble, even if it is not escaping through the slits.

Use a spatula and an oven mit to transfer warm pies to plates.

Doesn’t that look yummy?

Break the top, let it cool a bit and have a bite….mmmmmm!

The salt and pepper on top of the pastry seasoned the filling perfectly–no need to add salt and pepper to the filling before you put it into containers.  I love how cute these little pies are and love, love, love how they taste.  Ooey-gooey comfort food-o-rama!  Yummy!

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Sweet Tooth Saturday: Jingle All The Way Peppermint Bark

I’m easing into the season a little at a time.  Yesterday, I decorated a little tree for my kitchen with tiny cookie cutters, a tiny grater and cinnamon sticks.  And today I made this festive, gift-ready bark that makes you hear the jingle bells with every bite.

It’s super easy-peasy, with very few ingredients and no special equipment needed.

For a 4×6 pan:

  • 1 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs  (I smashed up 4 chocolate cookies in a ziploc bag.)
  • 1/4 cup peppermint crumbs (I smashed up a candy cane in a ziploc bag.)
  • a drop or two peppermint extract

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving it long enough to have “handles”.  I sprayed a bit of non-stick spray on the pan first to help the paper stay put.

Place chocolate cookie crumbs in the bottom of the pan.

Place semi-sweet chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth.  Add a drop or two of peppermint oil, stir to combine.

Pour melted chocolate over the cookie crumbs.  Let sit until almost set, but not completely firm.

Melt white chocolate chips the same way.  When melted, stir in half of the peppermint crumbs.

Pour white chocolate over the semi-sweet.  I accidentally touched into the semi-sweet while spreading the white.  There was no going back, so I marbled the top.

Top with remaining peppermint crumbs.  Press crumbs lightly to help them adhere to the white chocolate. 

 

Let sit until completely firm.  Lift out of the pan using the parchment handles. 

Break or cut into shards.  Eat any that break apart(!)….or save the crumbs to top sugar cookies, or ice cream or brownies…..!

This bark is so festive–both to look at and eat–yummy!  Make a double batch and save some for gift-giving!

What gifts do you like to give from your kitchen?

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Celine’s Lemon Marmalade

Toast and marmalade for tea?  I think yes!

My mom is always on the hunt for new recipes.  She tries them out and then shares the yummy ones with me.  This super-uber simple recipe is one of those.  Two ingredients and a little time results in a tart, golden, yummy schmear for toast.  Adjust the ingredients to however much marmalade you want to end up with.  I decided to just do a little test run to see how it worked; using just a few small lemons.

  • 3 small lemons–I think Meyer lemons would rock this marmalade–use ’em if you can find ’em!
  • enough sugar to equal the amount of juice from the lemons

That’s it!  First, wash the lemons and peel them, using a vegetable peeler.  I suggested zesting, Mom said absolutely not–your little pieces of peel would not create the desired texture in the marmalade.  You MUST use a veggie peeler.  OK…now that I’ve tasted it, I must agree–use the peeler.  🙂

Finely chop the peel until you have lemon peel confetti.  Place it in a sauce pan that will hold the juice and sugar you expect to use.

Juice the lemons, strain off the seeds, and measure the amount of juice.  Place juice in the pan.

Measure out an equal amount of sugar–I had 1/2 cup of juice, so added 1/2 cup of sugar.  Add to the pan.

Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until a couple of drops of the marmalade dropped into a large metal spoon hold their shape and have a thickness you like when cooled.

Pour marmalade into a sterilized, warm jar.  Seal and cool. 

You can do the whole canning thing if you want and make extra jars for little gifties.  My three little lemons made about 1/2 cup of marmalade–enough for a taste, enough for toast and tea.

What food gifts do you like to give?

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Rosemary Roasted Walnuts

Earlier today I got a text from a good friend in town for the weekend–she proposed an FAC up at the winery she co-owns.  I asked if I could bring a snack.  She agreed as long as I didn’t go to any fuss. 

 

I remembered a recipe for spiced nuts I’d seen in a magazine recently; one from Ina Garten, a favorite of mine. (I love watching the Barefoot Contessa–love her kitchen, her garden, her way of making gourmet approachable.) 

Ina’s recipe is for cashews, but I have walnuts.  Lots of walnuts.  Walnuts I bought thinking I’d make piles and piles of pesto from the piles and piles of parsley I had.  I ran out of oomph before I ran out of parsley…or walnuts.  I also happened to have the other ingredients I needed; I bet you do too!

  • 4 cups walnuts
  • 2 TBSP coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 TBSP butter, melted
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. 

Place walnuts on an edged baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes.  You’ll start to smell them around 5 minutes–watch them carefully from then on.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine rosemary, butter, sugar, salt, and cayenne,

until well combined.

Add hot walnuts to the bowl and toss until well combined.  Garnish with a rosemary sprig.  Serve warm…you’ll be so, so glad you did.

The warmth brings out the aromatic oils of the rosemary.  I found the warm-herbal-spicy-crunchy-yumminess of these nuts paired really well with the herbally undertones of Reeder Mesa’s Cabernet Sauvignon.  Another friend preferred the crisp acidity of Reeder Mesa’s Riesling as a pairing.

Whatever you pair with these roasted nuts, I have to warn you…They.  Are.  Addictive.  Really.  As yummy as they are, they are no fuss.

As we all sipped and crunched, we thought all sorts of nuts that would be enhanced by this spice combo….mmmmm!  Which nuts will you use?  Maybe you’ll use them to top a salad?  Or a crunchy topping for a smooth butternut squash soup?  ???

As you ponder the possibilities, enjoy this November sunset, taken from the deck at Reeder Mesa Winery tonight.  Ahhhhh…..

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Filed under appetizer, Garden produce, recipe, wine

Curry in a Hurry

Last week before we left on vacation, I wanted to make somethin’ yummy that would be quick, wouldn’t require a trip to the grocery store, and could be adjusted to make just enough for the two of us.  After snooping around through my freezer, pantry and cellar, I realized I had ingredients for a basic curry!

A curry is technically a spice blend, often handed down from cook to cook, and used to flavor a sauce.  I have curry powder in my spice cabinet, so I’ll be using the spice recipe handed down from the good folks at the spice company!  🙂

The usual spice blend is golden in color; a combination of cumin, coriander and turmeric.  Many curried sauces have a combination of both sweet and savory ingredients–I love sweet mixed with savory–yum!  Some have meat, others don’t.  Some are thick, some soup-like.  Most are served with a starch of some sort and a variety of toppings or stir-ins. 

Here we go for a quick (in about 30 minutes), easy, basic and yummy curry to get your creativity started:

To serve 4-6:

  • 2 small onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small apples, peeled and chopped
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 4 TBSP flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-4 TBSP curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake (or more if you prefer!)
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half (coconut milk could be added instead…mmmm!)
  • 1 pound cooked, shredded meat–I’m using chicken, but I think pork would be awesome!
  • cooked starch–pasta, noodles, rice….
  • shredded coconut for a topper

Cook your starch according to package directions.  Tonight I chose spaghetti, because it was quick.

Saute chopped apples and onions in butter.

Add salt, pepper and flour.  Cook for a minute or two, stirring.  This will create a roux, or thickening agent for the sauce.

Add curry and red pepper flake, stir to combine.

Add chicken broth (I was out, but had those little cubes and dissoved them in water.)  Stir to combine, add half and half, and bring to a boil to thicken.

Add cooked, shredded meat.

Add starch and toss to combine.  Or, if you want, serve the sauce over your starch.

Top with a bit of coconut and enjoy!

I realized too late that I had macadamia nuts from our trip.  I’m thinking chopped, salted mac nuts would be another great topper.  I was also thinking adding frozen peas, chopped scallions and or cilantro to the sauce would add a  nice fresh, green flavor.  Some people like golden raisins in their curry….and chopped peanuts….what do you like?

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Breakfast Burritos To Go

We’re off on a fabulous vacation to the Big Island tomorrow, driving to Vegas and flying from there.  Hoping for a stress-free early start, I’ve already made breakfast!  I made another batch of  Aloha Coconut Scones and some cute little Breakfast Burritos to Go!  These are basically a breakfast scramble wrapped up in a tortilla and then wrapped in plastic wrap–ready to grab, nuke and go!

Here’s what I used for my burritos, but use whatever ingredients you have around and like.

  • 8 eggs
  • 4-6 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 pre-cooked sausages–these are andouille
  • a medium onion, chopped
  • a green pepper, chopped (I chopped up the multi-colored bell peppers from my garden and froze them.  I just grab out however much I need!)
  • tortillas
  • shredded cheese
  • a jalepeno, finely chopped if desired
  • plastic wrap to wrap up your little burrito bundles

First, make the scramble.  Wash and cube the potatoes–approximately 1/2 inch cubes.  Boil until almost fork tender.  (They’ll cook the rest of the way with the scramble.)

In a hot pan with a TBSP or so of olive oil, saute onions and peppers until tender-crisp.

Cut sausage into quarter moons and add to the pan.  Heat through.  Mmmmm!  This smells soooo yummy!

When potatoes are nearly fork-tender, drain and add to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes start to brown.

When potatoes are beautiful and brown and tender, beat eggs with a splash of milk to loosen them a bit. 

Pull the potato and sausage to one side of the pan, add eggs to the other side.

Cook eggs until mostly scrambled, but still a bit wet.

Stir everything together to finish cooking the eggs.  That’s it!  You can serve the scramble as is with a bit of cheese on top, or continue and make these cute little burritos.

I like to warm the tortillas in the microwave to make them a bit more pliable.  Create a burrito-building station with the filling, tortillas, cheese, and plastic wrap.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap, then a tortilla.  Place cheese and filling in the center of the tortilla.

Fold each side in and roll so filling is completely inside the tortilla.  Wrap in plastic wrap in a similar fashion–I usually lay the burrito across a corner, bring the corner up, bring sides in and roll.

 

Keep rollin’ and wrappin’ until all the filling is inside the burritos.  I ended up with 16 burritos. 

 

Tomorrow morning, in a minute or less of microwaving for each burrito (depending on your microwave), breakfast is ready!!!  Be sure to open the plastic a bit to vent the burrito before microwaving.  Half of these are for Michael, me and our travel companions, half for Mr17 to grab for a snack or a quick breakfast when his schedule gets crunched. 

I confess to adding a jalepeno in after I took the ingredient picture–I usually put a bit of salsa in the burritos, but wanted these to be less messy.  If you’re not worried about dripping, add salsa before you roll them–yummy! 

They’ll keep for up to a week in the fridge, probably up to 6 months in the freezer–they always get eaten around here, so I need to experiment with the freezing thang.  Maybe you could try and let me know?

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Aloha Coconut Scones

In honor of an upcoming vaca to the Big Island, I made coconut scones for breakfast this morning.  The original recipe comes from Sunset magazine; a picture on the page captioned, “Baked-in jam makes coconut scones a perfect breakfast treat.”  I think if you were to ask anyone eating breakfast here today, they’d agree!

So what is a scone?  Essentially, fancy biscuits.  The dough is constructed of similar ingredients, in a similar fashion to biscuits.  Totally easy, totally yummy!

I had everything I needed in the kitchen already this morning:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3 TBSP sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup jam

Preheat oven to 375F.  Butter a cookie sheet or line it with a silpat.

In a large bowl, mix flour, coconut, oats, 2 TBSP of the sugar, baking powder, and salt.

With your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub or cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs or a meal.

 

In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat eggs and milk to blend.

Stir all but 1 TBSP of the egg mixture into the flour mixture just until evenly moistened.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and pat into an 8-inch round.

Carefully slide the round onto a buttered (or silpat-lined) baking sheet.  Cut into 8 wedges, leaving wedges in place.

Brush with remaining egg mixture and sprinkle with remaining sugar.

 

Make a 1-inch diameter depression on the wide end of each scone, fill each depression with jam.  (I used lingonberry–for a touch of Scandinavian yum!)

 

Bake 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.  Recut scones and serve warm (highly recommended!) or move to a wire rack and cool completely.

 

Two to a plate?  Yes, please.  These are toooo yummy to stop at just one.  Sometimes scones can be a bit dry, but Aloha Coconut Scones are light and moist and fluffy.  Wear your lei, put on some Hawaiian music, brew up some Kona coffee and there you are–breakfast on the Big Island!  Yummy!

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House Special Chicken Lo Mein

When we get Chinese take-out, we always get lo mein of some sort as a side to our usual Mu Shu Pork and steamed dumplings.  Michael likes the “house special” lo mein with chicken and beef and shrimp, but I like chicken lo mein.  The kind that gets ordered depends on who calls it in!  What to do if you have a lo mein craving and you’re too lazy to drive in to town to the Chinese place?  You just make it yourself! (And because I’m the cook here, the house special is a chicken lo mein!!!)

It does require a bit of pre-planning for ingredients, but most will keep in your pantry, fridge and freezer, waiting for the craving to strike!  I especially like to make this lo mein (based on Rachael Ray’s “No Pain Lo Mein” from the 30 Minute Meals cookbook)  in the spring when the snow peas are coming on in my garden.

You can find snow peas anytime of the year in your local grocery.  Pick some up next time you’re there, along with:

  • 1 pound spagetti, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2-1 pound chicken, cut into thin strips (Handy Hint: cut chicken when still partially frozen–it’s easier to cut!  Also, be careful to wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, as well as using a cutting board that can be sanitized in your dishwasher.)
  • 2 TBSP toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil
  • a pinch or two (or more!) of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 lb snow peas
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 package fresh bean sprouts
  • 3 green onions, sliced at an angle
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce

Cook spagetti, drain, set aside. 

While pasta cooks, cut chicken into strips and brown it in a wok or large skillet in 1 TBSP of the sesame oil.

Remove chicken from pan.  Add vegetable oil, crushed red pepper, snow peas, onion and bean sprouts.  Stir fry for a minute or two.  Peas will be bright green and still crisp, onions will start to soften, becoming translucent.

Add chicken back to the wok, then cooked pasta and green onions.  Toss to combine.

Drizzle with soy sauce and remaining 1 TBSP sesame oil.  Toss through.

Serve with a sprinkling of sesame seeds….and chopsticks if you dare!

Mmmmmm!  I love this lo mein; it has a fresher flavor than take-out while still maintaining the tradition Chinese food flavors.  When you make it yourself like this, you can make your veggies as soft or crisp as you like.  I like to keep my veggies on the crisp side–I like the texture of crisp against the tender meat and noodles.  Add more soy sauce or red pepper flakes as you like.  Michael likes to add hot sauce to his. 

Want it vegetarian?  Leave out the chicken and substitute tofu or mushrooms.  Prefer red meat or sea food?  Go for it!  I like it just like it is.  Yummy!

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An Ode to Butternut Squash

Autumn.  A bit of chill in the air.  Sky that seems even more blue.   Leaves vibrant in yellows, oranges, reds and purples. Quiet afternoons strolling through fallen leaves; kicking them in the air, breathing in their aroma as they crush.  Apple cider, sweaters, the smell of the burned place on the lid of a jack-o-lantern.  Fall is the reward for surviving summer’s heat; a time to make memories to keep you warm in the cold of winter.

Butternut squash grow and become fat during the summer, turning a lovely tawny gold by first frost.  Being so-called winter squash, they ripen in the fall and will keep in a cool dark place for up to six months.  Their orange flesh is sweet and the perfect foil for savory fall soups and pastas. I grow butternut plants in my perennial bed; their vines traveling through and around the flax, chocolate flowers and iris.  When the garden frosts off, I’m left with a sort of treasure hunt to find the squash.  This year, I found nearly twenty!

Aren’t they pretty? 

These will keep me in squash for the winter, even after sharing with friends!  The first recipe that comes to mind after squash harvest, and deserving of a reposting, is Pasta with Butternut Squash, Brown Butter and Rosemary.  I love the sweetness of the roasted squash combined with nutty brown butter, the piney tang of rosemary and pine nuts, and topped with salty parmesan.  Oh.  Fall flavor in a bowl.  Yummy!  I made it last week, using rotini instead of the torn lasagne.  I think I like the rotini better–the butternut gets caught in the little twisty turns of the pasta for more yum per bite.

Celebrate fall by going leaf-scrunching wearing your favorite sweater and come home to a yummy butternut squash pasta…..and maybe a lovely chardonnay!

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, food musings, Garden produce, recipe, Vegetarian