Family

Puff Pastry Apple Hand Pies


Hand pies, dumplings, turnovers, empanadas, spring rolls and egg rolls pretty much anything that you can pick up with one hand that has either sweet or savory ingredients inside; I am a fan!
Out of everything I listed in my opening statement I have made them all but two of them. One of the two has been on my list to try to make but I haven’t gotten around to it; the other I think it is just easier to go to a bakery and buy them. I want to learn how to make empanadas and turnovers I am content with someone else doing it. At least for now!
Quick story from my childhood. My mother owned a cleaning company when I was a kid and I would go with her to a couple of offices at night; one was next to a Mom and Pop store/deli. The Mom of the store was a very sweet lady and she knew my favorite was Hostess apple pie and an orange crush. As you can tell I was a health nut way back then too. She would try to save me these items, or at least that was what she said when I came in that week. Now as an adult I very rarely drink soda but orange crush is still on the list, I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a hostess apple pie. I think I had one as an adult but it was many many years ago.
I do prefer to eat homemade or restaurant made items versus processed; but if I was on a desert island and all they had was hostess and crush – I would be pretty OK!
I’ve mentioned many times using up items I have on hand and last week I had some apples on the counter that no one seemed to be grabbing and frozen puff pastry sheets in the freezer that had been in there awhile. Apple hand pies sounded perfect to me; and they were! 

puff pastry apple hand pies
Yields 12
easy to make and eat
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup granulated sugar
  2. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 3 crisp apples or whatever you have on hand; cored and cut into ¾” dice
  4. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  5. ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  6. pinch of ground cloves
  7. 2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  8. 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  9. 1 tbs all purpose flour
  10. 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  11. 1 egg beaten with 1 tbs water, for egg wash
  12. 1 tablespoon Sugar in the Raw
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the apples have softened and released their juices.
  3. combine the lemon juice and flour in a small bowl and stir to the dissolve the flour.
  4. Remove the apples from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and flour mixture. Pour the apple mixture into a medium bowl and set aside to cool while you prepare the pastry. Make sure you allow them to cool, I did not and it made a mess.
  5. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on a floured cutting board. Roll the sheet into a 12-inch square with a rolling pin. With a sharp paring knife, cut six 5-inch circles from the pastry, using a dish or a bowl as a guide and discarding the scraps. Place ¼ cup or less of the filling on one side of each circle, leaving a border around the edge of each circle. Brush the edges of the circles with the egg wash and fold over, making half circles. Crimp the edges together with the tines of a fork. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry. Place pies on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and chill for 15 minutes. Brush with the egg wash, sprinkle with the sugar in the raw, and make 3 small slits in each pie to allow steam to escape. Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
  6. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or at room temperature.
Notes
  1. Make sure your apples are cooled. Some of the filling may come out while preparing and/or baking it's fine.
Adapted from ina garten
Adapted from ina garten
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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!!!

Garlic lemon sheet pan chicken thighs

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So I didn’t get to making my pickles last weekend so this weekend it is a must. The cucumbers are still the strongest crop we have this season and both veggie drawers are full.
IMG_4177Last night my son and his fiance were coming over for dinner and to discuss their wedding and reception ideas; yes it is a little over a year away but you have to come up with some sort of plan to give everyone some time to make some of their wishes come true.
IMG_4181I decided that dinner needed to be less hands on so we had plenty of time to chat. Sheet pan dinners are pretty cool and if you have never tried making them you should add it to your list; I bet they will make it into your weekly dinner rotation.
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They are easy, you don’t need a lot of ingredients or do they take a lot of prep time. Your oven does most of the work leaving you time to do more important things. Plus clean up is super quick.
IMG_4183I had a family pack of chicken thighs, my husband picked an onion a turnip some potatoes and a few carrots. Sounds like dinner to me.  Yes I use a few sheet pans but I was making a lot of chicken. And you want to make sure everything has room to roast otherwise your veggies will steam and it’s just not the same.
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Garlic lemon sheet pan chicken thighs
sheet pan dinners
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Ingredients
  1. 8 chicken thighs, bone in skin on
  2. Kosher salt and black pepper
  3. 3 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 lemon squeezed
  5. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  6. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  7. wash, peel and chop 2 or more vegetables of your choice
Instructions
  1. pre-heat oven to 400'F
  2. season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper
  3. in a large bowl add the olive oil, lemon, sugar and garlic
  4. add chicken thighs and let marinade while you peel the vegetables
  5. place the thighs skin side down onto the sheet pan covered in parchment paper
  6. in a clean bowl add the veggies one at a time or all together, olive oil, salt an pepper
  7. add the veggies to another pan and make sure there is room for them to roast or grab another sheet pan to spread them out
  8. bake for 35 minutes, turn the veggies and flip the chicken.
  9. bake for another 30 minutes until the veggies are cooked through slightly browned
  10. If needed set the oven to broil and brown the chicken skin - I had to.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage

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I believe I mentioned a few posts ago how I was going to leave the entire garden to my husband. I am basically still being true to my word. I have only harvested a few asparagus and only weeded that bed. He has spent more time out there more this years than in years past and has harvested cauliflower, lettuce, radishes and now Swiss Chard. Which this is the first time we have tried growing Swiss Chard. It is doing great out there and looks gorgeous. My daughter was the one that wanted it to be rainbow chard and that was a great choice too.
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Friday nights dinner needed to include Swiss Chard only because I am not sure how long it will last sitting in the fridge. And it really is pretty cool to pick, cook and eat what you have planted, nurtured and harvested.
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When I told my daughter what we were having she immediately said “yum” some of our favorite things, pasta, sausage, cheese. Pretty fail safe that dinner will taste like it was made with love. And it was!

Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 ounce box of pasta - small shells, rigatoni. cavatappi
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 3 links sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, crumbled
  4. 4 tablespoon butter
  5. 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  6. 1 bunch of Swiss chard, remove stems and roughly chop leaves
  7. 2 tablespoons flour
  8. 1 3/4 cup milk
  9. 1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano grated
  10. 1 lemon - zested
  11. kosher salt
  12. freshly cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Pasta; make pasta as directed on the box. save 1 cup up the pasta water
  2. in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat add the olive oil and the sausage. breaking up while cooking. transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.
  3. remove most of the fat from the pot and add the butter, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute being careful not to burn.
  4. Add the Swiss chard and saute until it wilts 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook for another minute or so. lower the heat to a simmer
  5. Add the milk and bring to a boil. cook for a minute then add the sausage, parmesean, lemon zest and add a little salt and black pepper.
  6. stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
  7. Add the pasta to the pot and toss. Add pasta water as needed.
Adapted from Food Network
Adapted from Food Network
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Date Night Dine In

In my opinion the key to a successful marriage is communication. Why we have made it 30 years is beyond me. We are not great a communicating but apparently it is working for us. Do I think things could have been easier had we been better at it, definitely.
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It seems we always have some sort of plans either out or at home. Yesterday was no exception he worked, I went shopping; stop laughing SF. Had we discussed during our morning coffee/tea what our plans were we might have eaten dinner before 9pm. My plan was to hang out 2 loads of laundry, go shopping come home and put everything I bought away and then wash a couple of cars; after all that then I wanted to make this date night dinner for the two of us. His plan was to disrupt my plans.
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Mid washing he made a cheese, cracker, salami board and invited his parents over for wine and snack on the porch. Oh and then he got a call and had to leave because one of his tenants needed their AC unit put in. Parents show up, he leaves and I continue to wash cars, it ended up being 5 vehicles but hey who is counting. Parents leave around 8 when the wine and board were empty. Took me a little less than an hour to throw this meal together but I was great and I would totally do it again or something that resembles it.
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I had most everything on hand, steak tips, half a bag of shrimp and cocktail sauce were all in the freezer. I literally only picked up the lettuce and the small potatoes. Oh and the fresh bread that we ate some before hand; but it made it into the pictures.

Ingredients
Steak Tips
Shrimp
Baby potatoes
Iceberg lettuce
Bleu cheese dressing
Feta crumbles
Bacon
Cocktail sauce
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Directions
Shrimp
Make the shrimp first so it has time to cool. I used to boil them but find that baking them add a little more love to them. a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for about 8 minutes till cooked through. Set aside to cool.
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Baby Potatoes
slice in half, a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350’F
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Steak Tips
a little salt and pepper and a swirl of olive oil in your heated pan is all you need.
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Wedge Salad
I cooked my bacon in the microwave between some paper towels. 4 pieces for 6 minutes.
Slice the head of iceberg lettuce in half and then half again.
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If you use 2 boards or platters, you can keep the warm stuff away from the cold and it looks nice.

 

 

Meatloaf – low sodium low fat

My mother might be shocked to read this blog – nothing bad trust me just me making and sharing a meatloaf recipe someone might have to pick her up off the floor! I am sure everyone has a childhood food trauma – OK trauma might be a little harsh but I am still not a meatloaf fan by any stretch. My poor husband sometimes orders it out since I pretty much never ever make it.
IMG_4063My mother might fall over again when she reads that I not only made a meatloaf but I used ground turkey WHO AM I? When I was a punk teenager my mother tried to pull off ground turkey as ground beef – who did she think she was kidding – my teenage self was not falling for it one bit. My adult self is far more evolved I usually have a package or two in the freezer.
IMG_4065.JPGYou might be wondering why I would even attempt making this meatloaf; but my Dad should be eating a lot more healthier than he has his entire life so I guess I am going to try to convert him on a few things I know he likes. I feel that if I can make him a couple staples that are lower in sodium and with healthier choice of protein maybe he’ll try a little harder.
IMG_4066.JPGI found this recipe from Genius Kitchen and changed it from ground beef to ground turkey. Yes I did try a bite of it, but I also put a chunk out on the table for the fam, immediate and extended, and they all liked it a lot so I think it is a winner.
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Low-Sodium Low-Fat Meatloaf
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. Meatloaf
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. ½ cup onion, chopped fine
  4. ⅓ cup celery, chopped fine
  5. ⅓ cup carrot, chopped fine
  6. 2 pounds ground turkey
  7. 1 cup rolled oats
  8. 1 egg
  9. 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  10. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  11. ½ cup milk
  12. 2 teaspoons Mrs Dash seasoning mix
  13. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  14. Sauce
  15. 8 ounces no salt tomato sauce
  16. ¼ cup brown sugar
  17. 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  18. 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the olive oil just till tender, let them cool a bit.
  3. In a large bowl mix all the meatloaf ingredients together using your hands.
  4. Shape into a loaf and place in a baking dish.
  5. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the meatloaf ingredients.
  6. Bake for 1 hour.
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Taco bar – fish, chicken, beef and shrimp

We are going to celebrate May 5th aka cinco de mayo with a little taco party for family and friends.  While it may look like a lot of work it really isn’t too bad.  Your time will be spent mostly dicing and slicing and a little frying.  The reward far out weighs an hour or so prepping for your party.  And pulling off a party in less than 2 hours is quite satisfying.

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some of the ingredients for today – plus I made a frittata with some of these ingredients

Being the Saturday before and writing this I have made up my shopping list and am just about to head out to the store.  I am going to make up a few things today like the Mango salsa the chipolte mayo and the beef taco mixture and then tomorrow will be a cinch to pull everything together.

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I plan on setting out several small bowls filled with sour cream, salsa, fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, lime wedges, diced green onions, shredded cabbage and lettuce and some shredded cheese.  I think that is all that is needed to top your taco no matter which one you choose to make.  I’ll set up my fry station and assembly line the fish, chicken and shrimp. and them place them on a platter for everyone to create their own special taco.
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When everyone arrives it is nice to have something to snack on and what better than a 7 layer dip. you could also set out some chips and salsa for a slightly lighter fare. Since I will have my fryer out I might just have to make churros but we’ll have to see if everyone has room for something sweet after the taco bar.

Beef Taco
1 pound hamburger
1 small can tomato sauce
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder

Brown meat and drain excess fat.  add tomato sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.
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Chicken, Shrimp and Fish Taco
F
lour
Egg beaten
Breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

Set out 3 dishes, 1 for flour, 1 for eggs, 1 for breadcrumbs. make sure to salt and pepper each one.  Dip each piece of meat in the flour first, then the beaten eggs and finally in the breadcrumbs. An easy way to remember the dipping order is FEB flour, egg, breadcrumbs

Fry in batches in 350’F oil till browned and cooked through.

Chipotle Mayo
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1 cup sour cream
  3. 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  4. 1 tsp adobo sauce
  5. 1/2 lemon, squeezed
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until combined.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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Mango Salsa
2 Limes – sectioned, diced
2 ripe mangoes, diced
4-5 red radishes, small diced
1 small red onion, small diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ bunch fresh cilantro, leaves chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper

Add all into a dish stir and refrigerate until ready to use.
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It can be intimidating to slice up a mango. They naturally have a flat bottom; slice along both sides. If you can’t slice through just move over a little bit.

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Make vertical and horizontal slices to the skin not through it. Flip the skin inward and then you can slice off all the chunks.

7 Layer Dip
1 can refried beans
1 container Sour cream
1 packet Taco seasoning mix
1 jar prepared salsa
handful of iceberg lettuce shredded
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped tomatoes – dry on paper towel and seeding them will help with wetness
Green onions – chopped

Mix the taco seasoning into the sour cream, set aside.
Layer refried beans, sour cream mix, salsa, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes top with green onions
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Maple Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

It will be 6 years this June since I started writing this weekly food blog and I do not see myself stopping anytime soon. I hope you are all OK with that; well I guess if you are reading this; you are on board with me continuing.
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With that being said I have upgraded my subscription on WordPress (more $) and am getting some help with how to make it a little more professional; and I hope easier for you to save and hopefully print out your favorite recipes. At least that is my goal. I just finished day 2 on how to build a better business blog so we’ll see where this takes me/us.
IMG_4029I have mentioned before that I am not very good at “self promoting” but yesterday I went to The Flying Butcher to pick up more pork chops and am making them tonight for my niece and her husband. I mentioned to the guy that helped me that I write a food blog and mentioned them in one of my posts because the pork chops we SO good. He said I should tag them and they will share it on their site. Look at me go! The name of the pork chops are Hatfield I need to ask them next time what Hatfield refers to. Name of the farm? Name of the pig? Company they get them from?
IMG_4037.JPGThe recipe I am going to share here today is what I am making for them later today. Not only because it is delicious but also because they collect and boil sap to make maple syrup and who doesn’t love having recipes that go along with what you worked so hard for.
IMG_4033.JPGThis recipe is even easier than the pork and apple recipe from a couple of weeks ago. Plus it’s fresh maple syrup season right now so let’s get cooking!
IMG_4030Pork Chop
4 pork chops – bone in or thick cut
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Balsamic Glaze
½ cup maple syrup
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons beef broth
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic – smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan add all the glaze ingredients together and bring to a boil. You’ll want to boil it down for about 4 minutes.
IMG_4031Using a cast iron pan; if you have one. Either pre-heat it in your 350’F oven while you prepare the glaze, or place it on the stove top and put it on low to heat it up nicely.
IMG_4034.JPGPat the chops dry using paper towels. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a little olive oil. Once your pan is almost to the smoking point. Add the chops and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes. Flip and add some of the glaze to the browned side. After another 2-3 minutes flip again and add more glaze. You can keep flipping and adding glaze or finish them off in the 350’ F oven till they have an internal temperature of 140’F.
IMG_4035.JPGRemove them from the pan adding more glaze and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes.

Maple Roasted Carrot Salad

Happy Easter!!!  Have a wonderful day!

If I was better at this blogging thing I would have given you this recipe last week so you could make it today as part of you Easter dinner. I plan on making it later today for my fam that will be here for dinner. I first made this and blogged about this recipe back in 2016. I am looking forward to having it later today, I can taste it already!

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I also am planning on making a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or it might turn into carrot cupcakes; both sound appealing to me.  I’ll have to see how the day progresses.

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Right now the house is super quiet. all I can hear is my fingers tapping on the keyboard. Which is very unusual around here. At the very least the dog is wanting something; could be out, could be attention or mostly could be a treat; but even he is still sleeping.  In less than an hour all things are going to change. My son and his fiance and my in-laws will all be here for pancakes, sausage and home fries.

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We have had Easter morning pancakes long before my kids were even born. And yes even though the kids are adults I will be hiding eggs. Which is almost as much fun for me as it is for them to find them.  I do love that I can truly hide them. The only problem is me keeping track of where I put them.
 
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If you happen to not have the ingredients on hand and there isn’t an open store near by I hope you keep this recipe in the back of your mind as it is easy to bring together; yes there are a few steps but nothing you can’t handle. The flavors meld so nice together and  you’ll look like a rock star placing it on the table for all to share.

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The Marcona almonds used to be something you had to look for around here but not now. I can get them pretty much at all of the grocery stores around. Which is great and now I have them on hand ALL the time. They are awesome by the handful as well as in sweet or savory recipes.  You should check them out if you haven’t already.

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Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad
Preheat oven to 425’F

2 pounds carrots
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup pure maple syrup
⅔ cup dried cranberries
⅔ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic (grated)
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces goat cheese
⅔ cup Marcona almonds (roasted/salted)
1½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon Freshly cracked black pepper

Prepare carrots to 1 inch wide and 2 inches long – because they are roasting at a high temperature you don’t want them too small.

Place in a medium bowl with the olive oil, 1 tsp salt and pepper toss together. Using 2 sheet pans (they need space you don’t want them to steam) Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once until the carrots are tender. Transfer all of the carrots to one sheet pan and add the maple syrup. Toss and roast for another 5-10 minutes just till the edges caramelize. Watch them. Once out set aside for 10 minutes.

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then set aside for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
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Place the arugula in a large dish, add the carrots, cranberries in their juice, goat cheese crumbled, almonds and the vinaigrette. Toss and serve at room temperature.

 

Recipe – Ina Garten the Chew episode

Sausage & Broccoli Pasta

“I hope you are going to blog about this; it is delicious” “I am going to have this for lunch on Monday; maybe even tomorrow too” just a couple of quotes from my fam after eating last night’s dinner. So here I am going to share it with you. Though a little back story, it was NOT what I had intended on making at all. I had some chicken thighs that needed to be cooked and I wanted to do a sheet pan chicken thigh and veggie dinner; until I opened the package; damn they had been in the fridge too long and went right into a sealed bag into the trash. So this was a back up plan as I also had some sweet Italian sausage in there that needed to be cooked. Thankfully they fared far better and made a great quick simple meal.
IMG_3999.JPGI am still trying to go through the freezer; I know; how deep is that damn thing that I am going on what 2-3 months of trying to use up what is in there. I had seen enough progress so that I took everything out the other day and placed it on the counter. Then called my husband out of his office to “come and pick something out for dinner” he picked arancini (fried Italian rice ball) and egg rolls – Um no thank you! That night was arancini; the next night was the egg rolls. It’s a good thing he is cute!

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I spy in the upper right hand corner my Godiva bottle*Chocolate Martini’s was also on the menu 

Back to how my Italian sausage and a few things from my freezer turned into a quick, simple and blog worthy dinner. When I laid everything out on the counter from the freezer I noticed the broccoli that I put in there from my garden was getting beat up a bit. Apparently being in there since September and getting knocked around a bit it was turning into smaller and smaller pieces. So I thought it best to use it or lose it. I have homemade chicken stock in there majority of the time; thankfully so I added a little pasta and voila dinner.
IMG_3995The best tip I can give you is brown the sausage; without browning it in the pan and letting the pan get all dark in coated with the yummy bits, I am not sure my fam would have been raving about it. The browned sausage made all the difference in the world. The chicken stock helped to deg-laze the pan which gave such a deep rich flavor to the otherwise boring pasta.
IMG_3996I didn’t and usually don’t measure anything so I am going to ballpark it for you!

3 links of sweet Italian sausage – casing removed
1 pound broccoli
1 pound penne pasta – cooked to the packages direction
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup or more Parmesan cheese – grated plus more for serving
Olive oil

Add a little olive oil to your pan and let it get warmed up, add the sausage; breaking it up and letting it get brown. Remove and set aside.
IMG_3997Add the broccoli and let it get a little browned on each side. Add the red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper to taste. Add the sausage and pasta back into the pan. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese and let it meld.
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Serve and enjoy!

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