Entree

Pasta Sausage Squash and Swiss Chard

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This is the first meal this year that was something we haven’t already had a million times over the years. I guess I just haven’t been interested in cooking yet. We have been very busy but we are always busy so that’s no excuse. It might also have something to do with my stupid cough that is better but not completely gone. I start the day with a list of things I want/need to do then I get home from work and am exhausted and end up doing nothing. It’s getting pretty old.

IMG_4948So I am going to thank you for getting me back in the kitchen. I made a list of things I want to make and last night started two of them. I wanted to make something new to share with you all. According to my family we had a keeper for dinner last night. The first question my husband asks me is if I wrote it down so I can recreate it. How rude of him to think I didn’t; he knows I tend to make things even from a recipe more to our tastes mostly out of necessity. Sometimes I can’t find what the recipe puts in their dishes so I improvise with what I have on hand. I hope you all do that; though through some of my experiences at a few of my cooking classes I hold at my home this is not always the case. In his defense he and my son keep bringing up a Mahi Mahi recipe I didn’t keep track of and have never been able to replicate it again. I don’t even try anymore.
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Last night I gave my fam an option of a couple of meals; my daughter said past and sausage two things we love. So that was it and here it is for you.

Pasta Sausage Squash and Swiss Chard
Serves 6
This would be a great weeknight meal, it comes together pretty quickly
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Total Time
35 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 box of penne pasta
  2. 2 cups diced butternut squash (1/2 inch pieces) mine was larger than this
  3. 4 cups lightly packed chopped swiss chard
  4. 3 links sweet italian sausage casing removed and broken up (diced for a chunk works too)
  5. 1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
  6. 2-3 cloves garlic
  7. 2 tablespoon butter
  8. 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  9. 2 tablespoon flour
  10. 2 1/2 cups milk
  11. 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  12. kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  13. pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 2 minutes. Add the squash and cook for 6 minutes. add the chard and cook until the pasta is tender. 1 to 2 minutes longer. Drain and return to the pot.
  2. Combine sausage, shallot and butter to a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is soft about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the thyme and cook another minute. Sprinkle with flour cook stirring for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook whisking occasionally until the sauce starts to thicken. About 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese season with salt and pepper to taste. sprinkle with a little crushed red pepper to your liking. Cook until the cheese melts and the sauce is thick.
  3. Pour the sauce mixture over the pasta mixing to coat, serve with extra grated cheese.
Notes
  1. You can find butternut squash generally peeled and diced in large supermarkets to make it easier
Adapted from Eating Well
Adapted from Eating Well
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
 

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Pork Belly Ramen is what’s for dinner

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The countdown to Claus is coming quick! I know it is because the calendar says so and I have an enormous tree in my bay window with presents under it. But I am still not really feeling a whole lot like Christmas. Last weekend was our annual Christmas party where we all sang Christmas carols and that usually does the trick for me but I’m really not into it this year! 

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baked with a little olive oil Prosciutto wrapped asparagus for an appetizer – YUM

I proposed to my family that instead of a ton of presents under the tree there will be a few and then we will do something together as a family. Here are a few things I proposed that we do together. Take a cooking class, dance lessons, attend a Broadway show or concert. Maybe find a restaurant that has at least one Michelin star and have dinner there since we are all foodies. My husband suggested going up North and ski/snowshoe. We haven’t decided what we are going to do yet but will make a plan over the Holiday!

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a bunch of swiss chard

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Stems removed – you can eat them but they take longer to cook down

 

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use up those packages of ramen noodles – I throw away the salt flavor packet they include

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A box of stock as well as some of my homemade stock from the freezer

IMG_4930IMG_4931What is a Michelin star?
Michelin Stars are given out on a scale of one to three, and only the top establishments in the world qualify for this designation. To earn one star, a restaurant must be considered “a very good restaurant in its category.” For two stars, the criteria is “excellent cooking, worth a detour.” To qualify for the elusive three stars, a restaurant must serve up “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”

People have taken vacations centered solely around visiting restaurants that have earned Michelin Stars. Because of this, it is easy to see why chefs are so eager to earn this recognition; having at least one Michelin Star can do wonders for a restaurant. Having three stars solidifies a restaurant as undeniably one of the best in the world. My daughter is looking into it for her 30th birthday this coming year!

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salted, peppered and sugar mixture all over the pork belly – let it sit over night in the fridge.

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thinly sliced and browned on both sides in a frying pan

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makes my mouth water – just saying!

Since we had our party last weekend we had family up and I had a large piece of Pork Belly in the freezer so I thawed it out, seasoned it, baked it and brought it out for dinner for a crowd. Ramen is delicious and can be time consuming; if made the traditional way. Mine here is crazy quick and crazy good; mind you having homemade chicken stock on hand is key. And starting the pork belly a day or so ahead of time. But the hands on time is nothing.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with all family and friends!

Pork Belly Ramen
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Ingredients
  1. 1 - 3 pound Pork Belly
  2. 1 Ramen packet per person
  3. 1-2 teaspoon grated ginger
  4. 1-2 tablespoon soy sauce
  5. 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  6. 2 32 ounce chicken stock roughly for 4 people - adjust to how many people you are serving
  7. bunch of swiss chard or bok choy chopped - I made it both ways this week - bok choy add a little more punch
  8. scallions, sliced thinly - sprinkle on top
  9. basil, chopped - sprinkle on top (optional)
  10. cilantro, chopped - sprinkle on top (optional)
  11. eggs - 1 soft boiled egg per person
Instructions
  1. Pork belly;
  2. 1 pound = 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon black pepper. adjust for what you have
  3. season generously on all sides with kosher salt, black pepper and white sugar. cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450'F. roast fat side up for 30 minutes. Lower oven to 275'F for an hour.
  5. Let it cool to room temperature, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more, up to 2 days.
  6. Soft boiled eggs;
  7. bring a pot of water, enough to cover all of your eggs to boil, lower each egg gently into the water and cook for 6 minutes. Remove from the boiling water to an ice bath to stop them from cooking. Peel and slice when you assemble your bowls.
  8. Ramen;
  9. In a stock pot add the broth bring to a boil, add the ramen and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the bok choy or swiss chard cook for another minute or so. Remove from the heat and add the ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil to taste.
  10. Divide ramen and some broth between the bowls. Add the sliced egg, a few pieces of browned and crisped pork belly and the scallions. Also add the basil and cilantro if you are using.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
 

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easy and so tasty – try it! baked for 15 minutes at 350’F

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Anguilla vacation lunch and dinner

I mentioned last week that I was heading out for vacation and will be sharing some of the food we had. We arrived home last late night well actually we landed around 7:30 then had to go through immigration and then customs.

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Snapper lunch on Sandy Island

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BBQ chicken lunch on Sandy Island – cole slaw, rice and pasta – very good! 

Pictures of Sandy Island off the coast of Anguilla

We are no strangers to going through our international airport over the years. Our first time was back in 1988. Every year has been a little different; this one was a little odd to me. They have automated it a bit by having a machine read your passport and you answering a few questions on screen before you see an customs agent.  In the past we had always had to go through two check points one before you get your luggage and then another after you get your luggage. This time around there were 5 or 6 customs agents standing together and let us all just walk through with our bags and didn’t even look at us. Totally took me off guard. Not complaining that just meant that no one was going to pull us aside and go through our luggage looking for things we didn’t claim; which was also weird we never filled out customs forms; going into our destination and coming home. Very different!

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Lobster lunch at the Sunshine Shack

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Best french fries we had on the island at the Straw Hat

Enough about that I have a few pictures from my phone so some of the pictures are not that great but I will try to explain a little about what you are seeing. We ate out quite a bit and some restaurants stand out better than others and there was probably one that we probably wouldn’t go back to but it might have been either what we ordered or just not there night so I am not going to mention them.

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Steak dinner we made back at the house – I brought the steak from home!

Jacala on Meads Bay is a must but make sure to make a reservation, they can be crazy busy at times. This is an authentic French restaurant with the Co owner Jacques Borderon walking or rather talking you through taking your order and making sure you know exactly what your are going to be eating was a real treat.

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Asparagus soup amuse bouche at Jacala with my cosmo!

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Appetizer of a “shepherds pie” believe it or not. It was excellent

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bouillabaisse – said best he had ever eaten!

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Pan roasted pork tenderloin over risotto

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Grilled snapper – this was mine and was excellent! Seasoned and cooked to perfection!

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Grilled crayfish – also well seasoned and tender

Ember on Lower South Hill is another must try. Everything is cooked on an open wood fire. Nothing was too smoky and Chef owner Marc Alvarez knows exactly what he is doing!  Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos it was our anniversary dinner but was probably the best fish I had on the island – melted in your mouth. I pretty much ate Snapper and Mahi Mahi the entire week whether it be a sandwich or a fillet or even in a taco.

Both are open air with water views though at night there really isn’t much you can see unless a boat goes by. If you visit the island of Anguilla I would make these a must eat!
A few others were visited and enjoyed a meal. Blanchards on Meads Bay, Madearman on Shoal Bay had no power but we had a very nice lunch and Ocean Echo also on Meads Bay

 

Thanksgiving debate – Stuff or not to stuff

The great Thanksgiving Day food debate has started; does it ever really end?

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Spatchcock Turkey

The Thanksgiving Day debate I have overheard at work and the grocery stores even at the butcher just yesterday. Turkey, Ham, Lamb, Beef or even lasagna? I have never not had Turkey so the others don’t even cross my mind. To brine or not to brine. I’ve done both and prefer not! Stuffing or Dressing and is it a bread stuffing or meat stuffing? I haven’t stuffed a bird with anything except apples, garlic, herbs and onions in years! Bread or meat I grew up on meat but I have gone back and forth for many years but the last 20 or so has been bread. It took me a few years to decide what “my” go to stuffing; actually dressing was going to be. I tried several over the years and asked all in attendance their opinions. We have all agreed to what I now make.

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Fried Turkey

And now for the sides, is there such a thing of too many sides? I used to think so but I am over that now. I think even last year I said OK we are not going to do so many. That didn’t work at all; I argued with myself why each veggie needed to be on the table. Whether it was someone’s favorite,  my favorite or even for color. You eat with your eyes first! My sides are always and will always be carrots, butternut squash, rutabaga aka turnip, and peas. I know I will add sweet potatoes in some form because that was always on my in-laws table.

A couple of more debates that I find quite funny is; the frozen or canned pea debate. I can’t even believe that one exists because canned peas are super mushy and not even a nice green color, no thank you! Hey Mom did you serve canned peas when I was a kid? I am sure I just didn’t like them because they were green; just checking!  Green bean casserole, homemade or the Campbell soup recipe one with the french’s fried onions on top? I have never made nor will ever try either way. I don’t care for green beans, they taste very bitter and too green for me. Kind of like I am eating grass so they are totally out!
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turkey rice soup – tis the season

And last but not least the Cranberry sauce debate some want the canned and others want freshly homemade sauce. I grew up on; the canned and have made fresh several times over the last few years. I personally don’t add it to my plate but I am all over it for the leftovers. Adding it to a sandwich or the Egg rolls I made last year; I am all in! I am already thinking about what I am going to do with the leftovers!    

The only thing I am debating at my house is whether or not I will be making or buying my rolls. I would love to hear what you are debating about for your menu; maybe it is cooking or going out?

Here are a couple of ideas for your leftovers. See the links for Turkey Rice soup, Leftover Thanksgiving egg roll’s and

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Leftover Thanksgiving Egg Roll

 

Creamy Alfredo Sauce

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I have been using up some PTO the last couple of weeks with long weekends and had some grand illusion that I would spend at least some of it making food, taking pictures, writing and banking a few blogs in case the holiday season got a little out of control and I couldn’t write. Then I got this fast and furious cold that won’t go away hello cold and flu season grrrrr.

IMG_4824.JPGYesterday I headed out pretty early in the morning for most of the day; we were out dress shopping for my future daughter-in-law. She has an idea now of her perfect dress but is still waiting for the “yes to the dress” moment.

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I dice up my chicken breast so there is more surface area for the seasoning and fry pan!

My last stop was going to be the grocery shopping and I had a craving for fettuccine Alfredo before I got there so I added a few things to my list. I honestly cannot tell you the last time I had or even wanted it. I used to make it all the time; now it’s just a faded memory. Maybe I needed a little comfort food – that sounds about right!
IMG_4826.JPGTo make it a whole meal I grabbed some broccoli and chicken breast a loaf of bread and voila dinner! Well almost my daughter put away all the groceries while I chilled out on the couch and came very close to napping before I ventured into the kitchen

Creamy Alfredo Sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup butter
  2. 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  3. 2 ounces cream cheese optional but does make the sauce creamier
  4. 3-4 cloves fresh garlic minced
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese freshly grated
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add butter, heavy cream, and cream cheese. Stir over low heat for about 2 minutes until melted and it starts to lightly simmer.
  2. Whisk in the garlic, salt, and pepper for one minute.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add in the Parmesan cheese, continue to whisk until melted.
  4. Serve immediately with your favorite pasta
Adapted from sweet and savory meals
Adapted from sweet and savory meals
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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Pasta e Fagioli

It is a soup kind of day in my world today! what does soup mean to you?
Soup to me is fridge clearing, a welcoming stove top aroma and a warm comforting hug in a cup,  It is just plain home to me!

I am writing this while having my morning cup of tea about an hour before I generally post for you and yes for me. I use my posts as kind of a recipe holder. I find it so much easier to google cookingatclarktowers.com and search for a recipe then to riffle through all of my collected paperwork of recipes. So I do it all the time and if someone asks me for a recipe If I don’t tell them to google it I send them the link. 
IMG_5441I am not sure what recipe I will be making in a few minutes but this one is one of my top 5 that I love to eat. I am actually going through the ingredient list and wondering if I have everything on hand and I think I do so while I am re-posting this recipe from a couple of years ago I am fairly certain this will be on my stove top shortly. 
IMG_5439I finally planted my garlic yesterday I hope it stands a chance to grow. I am a couple of weeks later than I normally get it into the ground and I am looking at the temperature at 7:49 am est and it is 32’F yikes I may not get any next year. Fingers crossed! 
IMG_5440Pasta e Fagioli Soup makes approximately 12 cups – freezes nicely

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground turkey (your choice – chicken, beef, sausage all would be great)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
32 ounce low sodium beef or chicken broth plus a little more as needed or use water
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
28 ounce can tomato sauce
1 ½ tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
¾ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried marjoram – or substitute with more oregano
1 cup ditalini pasta – or substitute with another small pasta
1 15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can northern beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and fresh crack Black Pepper to taste

Instructions
Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, crumble in the meat and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Drain fat and transfer to a plate and set aside.
Heat remaining olive oil add carrots, celery and onions over medium-high heat until tender, about 6 minutes, add garlic saute another minute or so. Reduce heat to low
Add the tomato sauce, broth, tomatoes and all the spices plus the meat back into the pot. Cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.

Prepare pasta according to the directions on the box. Add cooked drained pasta to the soup along with both cans of beans. Allow to meld for a few minutes.
Serve warm with grated parmesan or romano cheese.

IMG_5446Macros = 1 cup using ground turkey
Calories 221
Fat 7.54
Carbs 21.25
Protein 18.2

Roasted Lemon Shrimp with Linguine

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This is one of those recipes that speaks to me; no not literally but it pretty much has everything my family love in it. Pasta, Garlic, Lemon and Shrimp how bad could it be?
IMG_4748The 5 peeps around that table last night when I made it are on board with me writing about it. I will confess that at first glance you might “pass” on making it but there is a method to the madness and this one is a keeper. I will definitely make it again.
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I found the recipe in one of my favorite magazines, Fine Cooking. Some magazines I just tear out the recipe; I have stacks and stacks of them; Fine Cooking I will not destroy that beautiful magazine. I use those post it page markers and sometimes there are SO many recipes I want to make and most of the time I do!
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roasted lemon shrimp with linguine
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 1 medium lemon,washed ends trimmed and halved
  3. 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  5. 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  6. kosher salt
  7. 1 pound box linguine
  8. 2 cups frozen peas
  9. 2 pound extra large or jumbo shrimp,shelled and deveined
  10. 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
  11. 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  12. 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  13. 1 teaspoon chili pepper paste
  14. 1/4 cup dry white wine
Instructions
  1. position a rack in the center of your oven, heat to 450'F
  2. lightly brush a small foil lined rimmed baking sheet with oil. placed the lemons; flesh side up and close together. Brush the tops of the lemons with a little oil. Roast unto the lemon is puffy and just beginning to brown on the edges. The foil under the lemons will turn dark brown and syrupy. roughly 25 minutes.
  3. Turn the lemon halves over with tongs and rub the flesh over the dark spots on the foil to loosen the caramelized bits. Squeeze the juice and pulp from the lemon into a small bowl, remove the seeds, and set aside. Mince the peel of one lemon half, and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the parsley, cheese, granulated garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining lemon half to a large pot of well salted water. Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta, cook according to the package directions minus 2 minute till al dente. Remove the lemon and a cup of the pasta water. Add the peas and cook for 1 minute. Drain the linguine and peas and return to the pot.
  5. Dry the shrimp with paper towels. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt.In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil and the butter over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about a minute. Add the garlic and pepper and cook, stirring frequently for about 30 seconds. Add the wine, stirring frequently for about 21/2 minutes.
  6. Pour the ingredients from the skillet into the pasta pot along with the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce, if needed.
  7. Season to taste with more salt, granulated garlic, and pepper paste. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, top with the parsley mixture and serve immediately
Adapted from Fine Cooking - Samantha Seneviratne
Adapted from Fine Cooking - Samantha Seneviratne
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
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Sirloin, Autumn harvest hash, black garlic red wine sauce

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This was the test – using a filet, they only gave us one sirloin

A couple of weeks ago a friend tagged me in a post about a Chop Local event at a local Inn and Restaurant. I thought oh that isn’t that so sweet she thought of me; shout out to you LW. Then my daughter brought home the entry form for her, her brother and myself. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance in hell; yes even after all these years of making and loving the food I have made and then going as far as sharing it with all of you I still have self doubt about my abilities as a cook. There I’ve thrown that out there in the world!

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Secret basket ingredients we had to use in our dish

So I spent the day of the deadline contemplating whether to sign up or not. The deadline was 6 pm on Sunday. I finally convinced myself, it’s fine just drop it off you won’t be picked you can at least say you tried. I ended up dropping it off around 5:40 just before the deadline. Well not only did they draw my name they also drew my sons. My daughter was pretty bummed she wasn’t picked she totally wanted to do it. I love that my kids are foodies too!

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Rules we had to follow

I had no idea of the dates as they were not initially mentioned. Well it all happened so fast that we picked up our “secret” basket ingredients on Wednesday and had to present an entree dish by noon on Saturday. I did some research before I knew what we had to make or even what our “secret” ingredients were. I went on the Inn’s Tavern’s menu to see what kind of food they served and what I felt they could use, so I wouldn’t make something they already had; since the winning dish will be featured on their menu the month of October.

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morning of contest searing my sirloin on all sides

Here we are on Wednesday and I get my basket. All the things I thought about on Tuesday were out the window. They gave us a petite sirloin, 3 bulbs of black garlic and an apple. I wanted to make something to compliment what they were already serving while also using the freshest ingredients I could find, mostly from my own garden. And make something I would order.

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morning of contest veggie and apple hash 

Petite sirloin over roasted autumn hash with a black garlic red wine sauce
Boyden Beef Petite Sirloin topped with a black garlic compound butter over a roasted autumn vegetable and apple hash nestled in a black garlic rosemary, thyme and red wine sauce
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
1 hr 50 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
1 hr 50 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 stick unsalted butter
  2. 2 medium onions
  3. 2 heads of black garlic
  4. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  5. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  6. 1 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  7. 1 cup dry red wine
  8. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  9. 1 quart beef broth
  10. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  11. 3 thyme sprigs
  12. 1 rosemary sprig
  13. 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  14. 4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  15. 1 small rutabaga, peeled and diced
  16. 2 medium carrots, diced
  17. Kosher salt
  18. Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Compound Butter: 5 minutes prep / 40 rest
  2. in a small bowl combine 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened, 4-6 cloves of black garlic, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and mix well, place in some parchment paper and roll into a log. Refrigerate till it hardens approximately 30-45 minutes.
  3. Vegetable and Apple Hash: 20 m prep / 1 hr 35 m cook
  4. Because the rutabaga or turnip will take the longest, peel, dice and boil in a pot of salted water for about 30 minutes. While that it boiling pre-heat your oven to 400'F and peel and dice your carrots and potatoes. Making them roughly all the same size. Drain the rutabaga and place it; plus the carrots and potatoes on a lightly oiled sheet pan sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper plus 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and place them in the 400' oven for about 30 minutes. Remove and toss them then place them back in for another 20 minutes. remove and add the onion and toss, place them back in for another 10 minutes or until the onions have softened and the veggies have some golden brown color. During the last 10 minutes or so peel, core and dice your apples. Once the pan is out of the oven add the diced apples and put back in one more time for 5 minutes just till they soften. You want them soft not mushy.
  5. Sauce Gravy: 10 m prep / 30-40 m cook
  6. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the black garlic, crushed garlic, flour and sugar and cook, stirring often, until a golden-brown paste forms, about 5 minutes. Stir in the 1 cup of wine and the soy sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the broth, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 4 cups, about 30 minutes.
  7. Stir the apple cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Strain into another bowl and set aside.
  8. Filet: overnight prep / depending on size 8-12 m
  9. the night before your going to cook it; season it all over with kosher salt and black pepper; leave uncovered on a plate in your fridge. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you are going to cook it. Get your cast iron pan hot while the filet is coming up to room temperature and the pan is hot enough that you can feel the heat coming off of it. You want your steak to sizzle when it touches it. Add a little olive oil and place the meat on the hot pan; let it sear without touching it for 3-4 minutes.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

I tested my recipe on the fam Thursday night and we all loved it, so much so my husband kept licking his plate. My daughter took one bite and looked at me and shook her head smiling. That’s a winner to me all day long!!!

I was up first and forgot to take a picture of my final dish – the photographer of the day said she will send it to me. So I will post it once I get it.

Well I didn’t win at the Inn contest but I am still a winner with my fam so it I’m still winning!!!  There were 5 contestants and the winning dish was a pot pie with a side salad. It did look amazing and we are looking forward to going to the Tavern and ordering it, checking out the competition. One of the judges did whisper to me that my dish did beat out my son’s. We had a little friendly rivalry going, or more so he did. I tried to help him without over stepping. As I told him I will always be your Mom!

Thank you all for supporting me – I truly enjoy sharing my journey with all of you!!!

Roasted chicken acorn squash with sumac brown butter

 

I am fairly certain that last year was the first time I started cooking with acorn squash. I made roasted chicken with acorn squash with a sumac brown butter recipe I found in Food & Wine Magazine the other night and now my husband wants us to grow acorn squash next year. It is no wonder how our garden area keeps growing and growing. We are kind of running out of space where we have them all. I think we have 8 raised beds of various sizes. A couple of them are huge. One of the them I hate, it is too wide and built into a hill; I find it too hard to weed and I don’t like it so I pretty much ignore it.
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I dislike that bed so much that I asked if we could take it apart and reuse the lumber to make a different bed; ya know one that I will like. I have a strong sense that I am shit out of luck but hey it was worth a try right?
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If you have an opportunity to try sumac spice I don’t think you will be disappointed. Ground sumac has a tangy lemony flavor, although less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to your dish as well. So check it out if you see it. Or buy it online like we did.
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roasted chicken and acorn squash with sumac brown butter
Serves 4
great sheet pan dinner the legs and squash cook in the same amount of time. Plus easy clean up!
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Ingredients
  1. 4 chicken leg quarters
  2. 31/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  3. 4 teaspoons lemon zest, divided
  4. 2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  5. 2 medium acorn squash, halved and then cut into 1/2 inch slices
  6. 3 tablespoon olive oil
  7. 3 thyme sprigs
  8. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  9. 1 teaspoon honey
  10. 1 teaspoon sumac, divided
  11. 1 teaspoon Cajun spice, or Aleppo pepper spice
Instructions
  1. on a rimmed baking sheet evenly sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon black pepper on both sides of the chicken, refrigerate, uncovered overnight or at least 8 hours.
  2. Place chicken on the counter for about an hour so it comes to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450'F Add the acorn squash to the baking sheet; drizzle both with some extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle squash with 1 teaspoon of salt and remaining black pepper. Spread fresh thyme sprigs around the chicken and squash.
  3. Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until the chicken at the thickest part of the thigh reads 165'F and the squash is tender. Transfer chicken and squash to a platter, Discard the thyme sprigs. reserve the pans juices.
  4. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, roughly 3-4 minutes. Scrape the pan juices from the baking sheet into the saucepan. Whisk in the honey, 1/2 teaspoon sumac, remaining teaspoons lemon zest and remaining salt. Drizzle all over chicken and squash. Sprinkle with Cajun or Aleppo pepper, thyme leaves and remaining sumac.
Notes
  1. You should be able to find sumac at a Middle Eastern market or online.
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
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Pasta Swiss Chard & Burrata


Pickles are done – sort of! I emptied the fridge and made 19 jars of pickles. I went out to the garage and there was a basket full of them that hadn’t made their way into the house yet UGH! Not entirely sure we need more pickles but looks like I might have some Christmas gifts started wink wink!

My daughter is a cookbook collector and she doesn’t just collect any and ALL of them she likes the ones that tell a story along with the recipes and it must have a picture of the food. At least those seem to be the ones she is drawn too most. For Christmas I bought her Bringing it home by Gail Simmons. I had a feeling she would like it; she wasn’t so sure so she never even opened it until a week or so ago. And um yup she likes it; she has 6 or so pages marked for things she wants to make and there was a page marked for either of us to make and use up some of the Swiss chard from the garden since that is growing like a weed.


After pickling I decided to make the recipe to use up the Swiss chard she picked, washed and left in the sink. I started it around 8-8:30 and I think we were sitting down to eat around 9:30. Which we never usually eat that late but sometimes you get busy and can’t help it.

Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound orecchietta pasta or similar
  2. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 4 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
  5. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  6. 1 pound Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped into medium size pieces
  7. 2 lemons zested, juice from 1
  8. 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  9. 12 ounces buratta cheese
  10. 2 sweet Italian sausage links (opt) casing removed
Instructions
  1. cook pasta according to package directions - reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. In a medium skillet heat a little olive oil; crumble and brown the sausage and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet add the butter and olive oil, add the garlic, pepper flakes, and a little salt. Cook,stirring occasionally, until the garlic is slightly golden brown, not burned about 2-3 minutes.
  4. add half the Swiss chard and cook down till the leaves are wilted. Add the remaining Swiss chard. the lemon zest and the lemon juice until the leaves are wilted. Remove from the heat.
  5. drain the pasta reserving a cup of the liquid.
  6. Add the pasta and the reserved water, to the Swiss chard,sausage mixture and cook over medium heat for a minute.
  7. Add the grated cheese. Season to taste
  8. spoon into individual bowls. Slice the burrata into cubes. Top pasta with cheese and serve.
Notes
  1. You can find buratta near the mozzarella and feta cheese usually in the specialty cheese section
  2. If you like mozzarella you should try it.
Adapted from Bringing it home - Gail Simmons
Adapted from Bringing it home - Gail Simmons
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Thankfully it didn’t take too long and it had pretty much everything we like in it lemon, garlic, pasta and cheese. Pretty funny I asked Abbi if she minded that I add some Sweet Italian Sausage; I mean it is her cookbook and I wanted to make sure she didn’t need to make it exactly as written. Sometimes I do that and then the second time around I will tweak it.  It came out great and the sausage is a must in my world. 

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