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sausage to the rescue

sleep baby

I have a confession. It is really hard to get back into the swing of cooking and cleaning and real-life after nearly 3 weeks of being out-of-town and having company. I have no drive or motivation to do … ANYTHING!

Dave is knee-deep in tax season, so we are like ships in the night.

Connor works from 2:30 PM to midnight, five to six days a week, so he’s rarely home for dinner.

sleep kitten

And although I didn’t have jet-lag in the usual sense, I now realize that although I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night…. I am tired all day long!

sleepy sloth

I mean, when 3:30 or 4:00 hits each afternoon… I’m ready for bed! It takes all my power to stay up. Seriously, I feel like I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open! I think the latest I’ve hit the sack since our house-guests left is 8:00 PM. My usual bedtime is 10:30 or 11:00.

Enough of my first-world woes. I did get somewhat inspired by a package of sausage, of all things.

aidells

It’s really good sausage! Aidells sausage from Costco. And one of my favorite flavors ~ Habanero with Pepper Jack!

I went on the Aidells website and found a recipe to zip up to our liking. Here is one of the two sausage dishes we had for dinner on Sunday night…

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March 31, 2014   2 Comments

taste memory

“I’ve had this, or something like it before, but I can’t for the life of me figure out exactly when or where.”

question-

Have you ever tasted something and thought that?

It is exactly what happened to me last night when I was assisting a cooking class at Les Gourmettes.

Meredith Deeds was the instructor and as she began to put together this soup … well, I knew the second I smelled it, that I had created a recipe with those same smells, those same flavors and tastes … but it was not a soup.

300 sensatiuonal soups

Meredith is the c0-author of 300 Sensational Soups, and she is not only lovely but she is a wonderful teacher too. She demonstrated three of the 300 last night, and the African Peanut Soup was, hands down, my favorite.

During my drive home, I was racking my brain trying to remember the recipe I’d made using the same combination of peanut butter, sweet potatoes and coconut milk. I could have sworn it was a pasta. It was not, it was THIS recipe. As I recall, it was quite the hit with the family. Today, I shall share Meredith’s fantastic soup recipe. Expect a similar pasta recipe to come down the road sometime soon too.

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January 30, 2014   No Comments

slow cooker potato soup

slow cooker soup

This is one of those “Do as I say, not as I do!” recipes.

Last night I decided to throw some potatoes, onion, and broth in my slow cooker to make a no-fuss potato soup for the next day.

It turned out to be a huge fuss. All because I wasn’t thinking about exactly how my particular slow cooker works.

I set it on “low” for 4 hours. Which would have been just fine, perfect in fact. I later went to bed. During the middle of the night, I rolled over and woke slightly to smell the delicious soup simmering away as the comforting aroma of soup wafted into my room. Fabulous.

Problem was, I forgot that my slow cooker switches to “keep warm” after the 4 hours is up. So for an additional 4 hours or so, the darn thing kept cooking the soup. Overcooking it, actually.

too brown

When I woke this morning and went to look in on it, it was still lightly simmering and it was dark… so dark!

Please learn from my mistake. If you know your slow cooker turns OFF when it is done, fine. If it switches to “keep warm,” be sure to be around (or at least awake) to turn it off.

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January 29, 2014   No Comments

stuffed sweet potato skins

On Sunday, Dave and I went to a second baby shower for Tram. She’s having twins after all, so she should have a minimum of two showers! This was a couples shower that her best friends threw for her. It was at the home of Chef Michael Cairns and his wife, Dar. Michael is the Executive Chef at the Montelucia Resort and Spa.

onesie clothesline

So yes, naturally the food was outstanding! As was the decor, the company, and the relaxed casual vibe on an absolutely perfect and beautiful Sunday afternoon.

quinoa bar

Everything was delicious but the two standouts for me were a delicious and ultra-creative quinoa bar that we started with. And a pureed sweet potato side dish that Chef Michael served.

After eating that addicting sweet potato dish, I was craving sweet potatoes on Monday and I could not shake it. That is how this recipe was born… out of a craving. As we all know, pregnant women are not the only people who get them!

Connor and I thought the heat from the chipotle peppers was perfect. Dave thought it was a bit much. If you’re heat sensitive, cut the amount of chipotle in half. Or start with half as much, taste and then decide if you want to add more.

chipotle chicken stuffed sweet potatoes

Chipotle-Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins

3 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Greek yogurt, for garnish
Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish

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January 28, 2014   2 Comments

lamb shank recipe on 11/12/13

Hey, today is 11/12/13 – that’s all.
I just think it’s Cool!

Have you ever read a recipe that you wanted to make and noticed some ingredient or instruction that didn’t seem quite right?

You have a few options here:

You either decide to make the change or adjustment that you think will make it better.

Or you skip the recipe all together.

Or… option 3 … you go against your better judgement and move forward with the original instructions.

That is the mistake I made when I found the main course recipe I wanted to make for the European Dinner Party. It was a Tyler Florence recipe I’d found of FoodNetwork.com.

I love Tyler’s food and have never found a recipe of his that didn’t turn out exactly as expected – so I went against my first instinct and made the recipe as directed.

nailed it

That was a mistake.

No, I wasn’t making Cookie Monster cupcakes as my main course, and it wasn’t as epic a fail as that was!  It was a delicious sounding recipe for lamb shanks with a potato topping.

four lamb shanks

The problem was in the potato topping. The recipe read,

“Peel the potatoes and cut in half lengthwise.

After the shanks have been cooking for two hours, remove from the oven and arrange the potatoes on top to completely cover the shanks – you may have to cut some of the potato pieces smaller to fit…”

This didn’t make sense to me when I read it. Large potato halves on top of the shanks – just didn’t seem right. But I did it that way.

I was not at all happy with how it turned out. Slicing the potatoes thinly and then placing them on top of the shanks was my first instinct and would have made the difference in the dish. The potatoes would have cooked more evenly and the presentation would have been extremely more pleasing!

The photos, of course, reflect how I made the recipe, but the way I’ve rewritten the recipe is how I think it should be made and how I’ll be making it the next time I serve it.

And there will be a next time.

It still is a delicious main course!

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November 12, 2013   2 Comments

non-traditional Labor Day potato salad

Today is my Aunt Patty’s 60th birthday. Patty is the youngest of eight in the family where my mom is the oldest. My mom was 18 when Patty was born and she married my dad in November of that same year.

pattys cake

We celebrated yesterday with a birthday party at my Uncle Mike and Aunt Silvia’s lovely home. This is the cake that my sister, Sloane, had made at Honey Moon Sweets, for the occasion. The following recipe is one the two salads I brought. The other salad will be posted tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Patty!

And a very Happy Labor Day to all of you.

potato veg salad

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September 2, 2013   2 Comments

picnic potato salad

This potato salad was the second side to my patriot menu. The entrée and full menu will follow, tomorrow.

Creamy Dijon Potato Salad

Creamy Dijon & Dill Potato Salad

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and left whole
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 small red onion, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1/3 cup tightly packed chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper

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May 18, 2013   3 Comments

galette

IMG_6974

Galette is a French term that refers to a variety of flat round cakes, usually made with a flaky pastry dough.

Galettes can be sweet or savory. Although it is most common for galettes to be filled with fruits or chocolate and served for dessert, savory galettes are a satisfying meal on their own.

When making this galette, it is important to have the filling ingredients chilled or at room temperature. A hot filling will melt the butter in the dough before it hits the oven, preventing the crust from becoming flaky and crispy.

add thyme

One of the filling ingredients in this galette is an onion jam. I link you to that recipe in the list of ingredients.

I made a simpler version for this galette by eliminating the vinegar and raisins in that original onion jam recipe and instead adding a couple teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves. Either version will work wonderfully here.

Joanne Weir made a Mushroom and Blue Cheese Galette in cooking class at Les Gourmettes last week. It was fabulous! I was the lucky recipient of an extra round of dough for the crust. It is an outstanding dough. It is flaky and crispy and delicious. The recipe below is for Joanne’s dough and my filling.

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April 22, 2013   3 Comments

the birthday dinner

dinner plate

For our sit-down birthday dinner we had stuffed pork loin, green onion and Parmesan mashed potatoes, and a cold succotash side dish. The potatoes and the succotash have been posted here before, there are links to those recipes near the bottom of this post.

Peggy is not a big fan of beef. Occasionally, she’ll indulge in a hamburger, but put of plate with beef tenderloin in front of her and she turns her nose up at it. (I know, sometimes I think there is something wrong with that girl!)

It was a blessing when you’re feeding 25 people, though! Beef tenderloin would have been on the expensive side, to say the least. But a pork loin – now that is doable!

besties

I was initially planning to use pork tenderloin, but when I compared the price of the loin to the tenderloin – well that made the decision for me. I purchased two huge pork loins at Costco, they were about $18.00 each.

This recipe would work just as well using beef tenderloin, so choose whichever you prefer. If you can’t find Manchego cheese, use Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack instead.

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March 2, 2013   1 Comment

chowder

IMG_4800

On the second day after Christmas, we had no food left in the house.  OK, we had food, but nothing much to make for dinner. All I could scrounge up was the ham bone from HoneyBaked left from Christmas Eve. It had less than a cup of meat left on it.

ham bone

What to do?

I dug around and found a package of diced pancetta with an expiration date of 12/29/12. Score!

I had a few potatoes, a bell pepper, a chunk of cheddar cheese, and some leftover mushrooms that would soon be going south. Hey, this might constitute a meal, after all!

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December 28, 2012   1 Comment