Monthly Archives: November 2015

Carrot Soup

I was initially going to start this post with I hope you all had a very nice Thanksgiving with your family and friends; I literally had to backspace over the statement because it donned on me that this is a North American holiday and not everyone celebrates it and I actually do have a few readers out of the US that I am sure were doing something else all-together this past Thursday; probably working??? So for those of you who gathered with friends and/or family I hope your turkey was moist, your stuffing/dressing had an amazing crust and there was some room for the yummy pies that were sitting on the counter.

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My day started off pretty relaxed at first sitting at the island with a nice cup of tea with my hubby. Since we were not eating till 3 and we prepped all the veggies, made the pies and set the table the night before this should be a breeze right! For how organized I think I am and all the lists and yes I even make a timeline of sorts just so things have enough time to cook and kind of show up at the table somewhat warm.

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I started making my dinner rolls; easy – then I focused on the dressing and it went downhill from there just a bit; I forgot to pick up a fennel bulb, really Donna one of the main ingredients for your dressing, so I double checking I had everything else I needed for the day and off to the store I went. Oh did I forget to mention that I woke up ridiculously early and sat in bed convincing myself I didn’t buy a big enough bird. While at the store I also picked up a little 3 pound ham – just in case.

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I’m back at home and my nice relaxed feeling is fading fast, I make the dressing and it tastes awesome. I start to prep the bird; an hour later than I wanted to.  Once seasoned and filled with chopped up apples and onions into the 350’ oven it went. While I was cleaning off the stove top I must have hit the oven knob because when I looked over at the stove 30 or so minutes later the oven was set at 250’ UGH here we go! Long story short thanks to my convection oven; which I turned on when I took off the tinfoil to brown; did the trick. Though I was really hoping to let the bird rest for at least an hour it ended up being closer to 30 minutes and we ate a little later than 3.  But it was gorgeous brown and very moist I wanted to take a picture to share but it was a little hectic in the kitchen and I had made people wait a little longer than I had envisioned so you are going to have to take my word for it.

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Oh and I need to share one more little misstep I made this year. My daughter had made a whole 3 quart pot of sliced carrots that I cooked but they never made it to the table. I put them up on the shelf above the stove top to get them out the way to make my gravy and never found them again till I was cleaning up. This is the first time ever there were not carrots on the Thanksgiving table and no one said anything.  My son thought to himself that it was kind of weird there weren’t any but I would have thought my daughter would have remembered she peeled a boat load of something not on the table, I am all for leftovers but what to do with SO many cooked carrots… I’ve always wanted to try and make carrot soup so that is what I did on Friday.

 

Carrot Soup

½ stick of butter
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 Tbs fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
3 cups carrots peeled, chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 Cups chicken stock or use turkey broth if you made some
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice – I added the lemon zest but felt it was too much
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Melt butter in a heavy stock pot over medium heat. Add onions; saute for 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic; saute for another 2 minutes. Add chopped carrots (I added a few fresh ones and kept the cooked ones out until everything else was done) tomatoes and stock; bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and puree with either an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Return soup to the pot and add lemon juice to taste, just enough to brighten the dish, not over power it. Season with salt and pepper; top with a dollop of sour cream.

Italian Meatballs

Last Sunday my daughter and I had “Craft day” which comprised of staying in our PJ’s the entire day and making a complete mess of the kitchen island. A few years back I started making place cards for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I generally have the same core people each year for both meals so you would think I would be able to reuse from year to year. My mother-in-law always thinks they are “so cute” “can I take ours home”? I have no idea what she does with them but whatever. This year I KNOW she is going to want them; I think Abbi and I out did ourselves; they are super cute, or at least we think so.

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Before hot glue

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After hot glue

I had seen a Christmas wreath made out of wine corks and having a few (wink wink) on hand I wanted to try and make it. Then I also saw someone online made a Christmas tree out of corks. I was like how hard could it be. Hot glue, corks and a frame; they really were that easy! Though I won’t be able to finish the wreath until maybe after the holidays; I need a few more corks to finish it off, nothing a bow can’t fix for now.

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My Dad had stopped over the weekend before and bragged about having sauce and meatballs cooking on his stove, then one of my co-workers bragged about hers. OK maybe they were bragging I just took it that way because it sounded awesome. So between some crafts I made meatballs and had my own; well technically it wasn’t OWN sauce though I add diced onions, crushed garlic and fresh basil and some oregano and let it simmer the day away. This is one of those times when I can, and do make my own sauce, but if I can add a few ingredients to theirs and create something new and delicious why not. Leaves me more time to hot glue something!

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Italian Meatballs – I used close to 3 pounds of beef so I adjusted my measurements to what  I was using but here is a simple batch recipe to use if you don’t want a have a lot of left overs.  

1 lb. ground beef
½c bread crumbs
¼c milk
1 Tbs. fresh parsley
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
2 Eggs
1 tsp. garlic salt
½c fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Put everything in the bowl mix just to incorporate; best if mixed by hand. At this point you really should test a small one out by cooking it in a fry pan to make sure if tastes the way you want it to; there is no adjusting once all rolled and cooked.

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Roll into golf ball size; I tend to stir my sauce too much and some of meatballs don’t make it so I like cooking most of my meatballs in the oven; added benefit is the crust that forms on them YUM and then I add them to the sauce. Another added benefit is you can freeze them individually then pack them up in a gallon bag and save for another time.

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This batch was eaten all in the form of meatball grinders. Never even got to make pasta!

Thanksgiving – Sausage Ciabatta dressing

Sitting at the island this morning perusing some recipe magazines and tearing out things I must try or at least would like to try some day. I am pretty sure I have a 3” binder full of these recipes that I want to try some day. Maybe today is the day!

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Thanksgiving is coming up pretty quickly and the staples will always be on my table, turkey of course, though personally I like chicken better.Mashed potatoes because if we didn’t I am fairly certain my daughter would revolt; pitch a fit and make everyone wait while she runs into the kitchen to make them. I can say with some certainty she could and has eaten mashed potatoes for several days in a row. When she was getting her wisdom teeth out, I asked her what she would like on hand to eat.The only thing I remember her asking me for was mashed potatoes. Sorry getting off track here.

I have always loved turnip as does my father-in-law; so many opinions on that one! We had a bumper crop of butternut squash this year so that is a definite.Then you have to throw in something green. I personally like frozen baby sweet peas; yes Mom I said it out for the world to hear; no taking it back now.

I usually make my own rolls (last year we had no power so no oven) and dressing aka stuffing. I don’t care to stuff my birds so it is dressing at my house.

I can’t recall ever having sweet potatoes with marsh mellows or the staple green bean casserole at my childhood dinner table so I have never made them and I really don’t have an interest – sorry everybody! I did just find a carrot sweet potato casserole recipe that looks promising. I have no problem trying something new; it will either work or it won’t but there is so many other things on the table that I feel confident that no one will leave the table hungry and what a better place to get a lot of peoples opinion on the subject.

In one of the magazines I was looking at the editors letter title made me chuckle! Secrets and Pies; basically people trying to take short cuts and cast them off as their own homemade. I don’t feel the need to hide my shortcuts. Hey I think we all could use a little extra help; especially trying to pull off a big dinner party for many family and friends.

My big help is pumpkin pie, I use frozen pie crust and canned pumpkin pie filling and I don’t hide it! My husband is a pretty funny guy; he likes his cookies fresh made only and his pumpkin pie thin and cheap hahaha!

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Potato masher does the trick really well

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I was hesitant using fennel – totally not a black licorice fan but worth a try – trust me!

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It has taken me a several tries to find a dressing recipe that everyone agrees on; this one is a keeper. I did blog about last year but I felt it bears repeating plus I gave it to you too late for Thanksgiving last year but maybe if you are looking for something new to try you might want to check it out this year.

Sausage Ciabatta Dressing

Your favorite Olive Oil for the pan
1 lb of your favorite Italian sausage – casing removed crumbled and browned
1 medium onion – diced
1 bulb fennel also called anise – sliced thin, fronds reserved
1 cup of chestnuts – I found them already cooked and peeled – brilliant
2 apples – I used granny smiths – peeled and diced
5 cups ciabatta bread cubed and toasted – I toasted them in a pan on the stove top
¼ cup fresh parsley – chopped
2 ½ cups chicken stock
½ melted butter

Add oil to the pan, crumble the sausage and cook till the sausage starts to brown, add the onion, fennel, chestnuts, apples and cook. Stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through

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In a large bowl, place the cubed bread and pour the cooked sausage mixture over the top. Sprinkle with parsley, and pour the stock and melted butter; toss to combine.

In a 9×13 baking dish place all ingredients in and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake until the top is golden browned and crisp. Serve garnished with some of the fennel fronds.

recipe adapted from Mario Batali’s Sausage Ciabatta Stuffing

Holiday Rubs

Well so far November has come in like a lamb, that’s not even a thing but we have had some crazy weather here in NH. Last week I wore capris and sandals to work; yeah it was that warm! My co-workers thought I was a little crazy but by Friday I saw several others joining in; I’m such a trend starter hahaha. There was even a semi local restaurant/bar that served dinner out on their patio. So with that being said, it is pretty hard to get into the holiday spirit but there is no time like the present; pun intended; to get some things going or at least start jotting down a plan of attack.

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Rib Eye with kosher salt, black pepper seared in cast iron topped with 1Tbs butter and fresh chives

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Roasted Chicken with fresh chopped rosemary kosher salt and black pepper stuffed with onions salt and pepper and a sprig of fresh rosemary and lemon slices under the skin

Once you have your list and I am talking about making several types of lists, or at least I do. I try to get a head start on picking up additional baking supplies; flour, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie mix along with the evaporated milk etc. I bought most of those last month. Also a good time to stock up on paper products as well as I also try to make sure I have a variety of dry pastas, different kinds of beans, and a few cans of Marzano tomatoes on hand, you never know when you might have an impromptu gathering of friends and/or family and you need to feed them all. At least that happens quite often in my home.

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This is also a great time to test out new recipes ahead of time; in most cases you know you are going to be making a turkey or a roast beef. A nice way to change it up a bit would be to use different spices or a mixture of spices and herbs. A less expensive way to try it out ahead of time is to try it on a steak or a roasted chicken now. My costly mistake was using truffle butter all over a fresh turkey for 18 and I hated it!

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This weekend I had a roaster-chicken in the fridge that I needed to cook so Friday night my husband and were staying in so why not. I generally always throw an apple in the cavity of my birds along with some onions and other herbs and seasonings. I did not have any apples on hand so thinking of what I did have, we used lemons that I sliced up and layered under the skin and we still have some pretty hearty herbs in the garden; we’ve had a couple of hard frosts, just not this month so he went and cut some fresh rosemary, I added a sprig in the cavity along with my onion and Kosher salt and pepper and chopped up another sprig and covered the bird. It was simply delicious!!!

Mediterranean
Mix together lemon zest of 1 lemon along with 1 Tbs of each fresh parsley, fresh chives, fresh oregano paprika, and onion powder. 1 ½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper garlic powder, 1 tsp salt and enough olive oil to make a paste. Rub all over and let sit covered and chilled for a few hours before roasting

Garlic Lovers (me too me too!)
In a small bowl combine 1 Tbs paprika, 1 Tbs fresh minced garlic and onion powder, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 ½ tsp salt and pepper, 1 tsp dry mustard – rub all over and let sit covered and chilled for a few hours before roasting

Au Poivre (French for peppery)
Grind together  1 ½ Tbs of each white, black, and pink peppercorns with 1 Tbs paprika, 1 tsp of each salt dry mustard and crushed rosemary rub all over and let sit covered and chilled for a few hours before roasting

Or a keep it simple and generously cover your meat with Kosher salt and Fresh cracked black pepper as I did with our amazing Rib Eye steaks last night!

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Lasagna made easy kind of

Last weekend we went to Montreal with another couple for a dinner reservation; yeah it sounded crazy to me to! When we were there last spring with the same couple; the talk of town of where to eat dinner was that there were three restaurants on Rue Notre Dame right in a row.  One of the guys we were talking to said and I quote “you’re not getting in there!” at that point it became kind of a quest to eat at “the best”  – alas humble pie; we didn’t get in BUT we were able to get into one of the others and it was an excellent Tapas type place called Le Vin Papillon we had an awesome time.

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This past weekend was our dinner reservation at Joe Beef; consensus is out of the 4 appetizers, and the 4 entrees there were some hits and some were misses. Was it worth the 3+ month wait; probably not. Would we go back, definitely! Did we have too high of expectations? Possibly! Did we have a great weekend in Montreal? Always! While there we also visited 2 farmers markets; Atwater is still my favorite! I brought home; across the border some homemade sausage, homemade pasta, and some fresh bread.  All so far have been excellent!

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Drying Peppers at Jean Talon Market in Montreal

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Rainbow of pepper Jean Talon Marche’ Montreal

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Joe Beef Menu – yes all in French

Saturday we had lunch at L’usine De Spahetti in Old Montreal; my husband had their individual lasagna and it was ridiculously delicious. While at the market I picked up some fresh made lasagna noodles with intent of making a similar version at home. He was so on board that when I told him I was making lasagna for dinner he got super excited and asked if I had the right dishes; um yeah I do not own restaurant individual lasagna dishes sorry! He asked if there was any place in town where he could pick some up. Our town is so small I chuckled and gave him the only option in town; of course they didn’t have any. So I made due with what I had and it worked out perfectly.

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He wanted to make sure I made them correctly!

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It’s a process but everyone can help!

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Super cute – only small baking dishes I have on hand

I think this was my best lasagna to date and SO easy!

Lasagna made easy

Fresh lasagna noodles – if you can find them
2 Sausage (sweet or hot Italian) casing removed crumbled and browned
1 Onion diced
3 cloves of Garlic pressed
32 oz Jar sauce – pick your favorite
package Mozzarella cheese
16 oz Ricotta
1 Tsp dried Parsley
Crushed red pepper flakes – to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
1 Egg

Brown the sausage, add the onions and garlic. Once softened add the sauce and let it simmer for the time it takes the water to boil for the noodles. Fresh takes less time than the boxed kind so roughly 5 minutes.  Mix the ricotta with the egg, parsley and a cup of grated cheese.

Place a little sauce in the bottom of your dish. Cover with a layer of noodles then ricotta and sprinkle some of the grated cheese then repeat, sauce, noodle cheese till you used up all your ingredients.

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Bake at 350’ for 20-40 minutes. Smaller containers take less time than an entire sheet pan

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Yeah they were that good, fresh bread needed to sop up all the deliciousness!!!