Family

Tiramisu

I found it kinda funny how on Friday morning my husband reminded my son that it was Valentines Day! Our son was all over it. He was making dinner, she made dessert they had a plan. This is our 31st Valentines day together and I wouldn’t say he has ever forgotten it but let’s just say some years have been better than others.

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My husband was more prepared than I was this year – hey it happens! I bought flowers for the table at the beginning of the week. I knew what I was making for dinner; seared scallops over a bed of risotto and some swiss chard. But until my son mentioned dessert the thought never crossed my mind. So after work I braved the local grocery store. Probably the first time I have seen the store so full of men. I did check out what they were buying because I’m nosy that way. Most had covered the bases with the flowers, chocolates and cards in hand. A few went above and beyond the holiday staples and were picking out some seafood for dinner, quite a few were looking over the steaks.
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Back to why I went to the store. I decided to pick up one of my husbands favorite desserts tiramisu, which of course they didn’t have. Now what? I walked around the bakery section and was not impressed; or at least nothing I wanted. Went to the frozen section and still nothing.  So that’s when I decided to just make my own.  I have made it a couple of times and thought I can do this! I picked up lady fingers, which they didn’t have so I substituted with Stella D’oro Margherite cookies. grabbed some heavy cream and some mascarpone cheese. I have everything else at home. BTW since I didn’t get him a card I was going to pick one out, I did look but the ones left were lame so I passed.

I got home and he had a chocolate martini ready – he’s a keeper!

Tiramisu
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Ingredients
  1. 6 egg yolks
  2. ¾ cup white sugar
  3. 2/3 cup milk
  4. 1¼ cups heavy cream
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 2 16 ounce containers mascarpone cheese
  7. ½ cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
  8. 2 tablespoons rum
  9. 2 packages ladyfinger cookies or Margherite cookies
  10. 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder – use a strainer to help distribute cocoa evenly
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended.
  2. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Don't walk away or you may end up with scrambled eggs. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour
  4. In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form
  5. whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.
  6. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum.
  7. Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise and drizzle with coffee mixture. Once they get wet it is hard to move them, so if you want to place them in their spot and then drizzle it will work out better for you.
  8. Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of 10x10" (don't worry about the size, use what you have) dish.
  9. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers
  10. then half of whipped cream over that
  11. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa.
  12. Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours, until set
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
all of these pictures were from several years ago – I didn’t take any of the one I made the other night

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Stay on top of this, you don’t want to make scrambled eggs.

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I think I should have soaked them more with the coffee and rum


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Portuguese Braised Pork and Clams

 

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I will be making this again – Soon!

Last weekend I made up for the lack of spending time in the kitchen. I almost made too many things if that is possible. We had leftovers all week long which for us is not a bad thing. I know so many people that do not like leftovers. I wonder why that is. Do they make things that don’t reheat well? What they ate didn’t taste good the first time around? Do they not know how to reheat things? Is it a childhood “thing” meaning there parents didn’t eat leftovers so they won’t eat them? With that being said there are some things that do not reheat well.

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I improvised with paprika and pimento peppers – use what you have on hand I say!

IMG_4946IMG_4947While I was making this I kept thinking about my friends SF and BF plus their family; the ones they share with us every Labor Day weekend when we become honorary Portuguese family members. SF you are going to want to make this; it is so good and reheats perfectly minus the clams; which we finished split those up before packing up the leftovers.

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I found it easier to put a strainer over a bowl and just pour the pork out of the bag 

IMG_4964 - CopyIMG_4965IMG_4967I will give you a heads up the pork needs to marinate overnight; I know some of you will stop reading and won’t even try this recipe but you can do this I promise; before you put the pork away after buying it slice it up and throw it in the marinade for tomorrow nights dinner. You got this!

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San Marzano whole tomatoes is my go to and I always hand crush them into my pot!

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Now it’s time for a confession. There is an ingredient I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t look it up before I went to the store. SO I made up my own version of what I thought it might be. I thought I might just stumble upon it at the store; I did not. I did look it up when I got home and now it makes sense so I will tell the ones who do not know what it is it might be in the spice section of your grocery store; if not substitute it with a smoked paprika that you can find and like. Not the pickle, olive mustard aisle. Pimenton de la Vera dulce.  I figured it was something to do with Pimento peppers obviously I don’t speak the language. It is actually a Spanish smoked sweet paprika yeah I know not even close!
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They used Cilantro for garnish – I didn’t have any so I chopped celery tops for added color

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Portuguese Braised Pork and Clams
Serves 8
A warm and savory soup
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Ingredients
  1. 2 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes. (I used pork butt)
  2. 2 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (divided)
  3. 3/4 teaspoon black pepper (divided)
  4. 6 garlic cloves (divided)
  5. 1 cup dry white wine
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. 1 tablespoon Pimenton de la Vera dulce (smoked sweet paprika)
  8. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  9. 1 medium sized yellow onion diced
  10. 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand - recommend San Marzano
  11. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  12. 2 cups chicken stock or broth (divided)
  13. 2 lb baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
  14. 2 lb Manila clams or cockies, scrubbed - I used clams I could find at my store
  15. scalions diced for garnish - or they had fresh cilantro on theirs
  16. serve with crusty bread for sopping up all the goodness
Instructions
  1. Season pork all over with 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. In a large ziploc bag add the pork. Smash 3 cloves of garlic, add to the bag along with the wine, bay leaves and Pimenton. Seal and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350'F
  3. Remove pork from marinade saving the marinade, pat the pork dry with a paper towel. Remove and discard the garlic and bay leaves. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add pork and cook until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to pork to a plate continue with the rest of the pork.
  4. Chop remaining garlic cloves. Add the onions and the remaining oil cook for a minute then add the chopped garlic continue cooking for another minute or two. You want them to be slightly browned but not burned stirring often. Add the tomatoes, red pepper and the reserved marinade.
  5. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer stirring often for about 3 minutes. Return cooked pork to the pot. Stir in 1 cup of stock until pork is mostly submerged. Cover and bake in oven until pork is fork-tender. 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  6. Stir in potatoes and remaining 1 cup of stock, Cover and bake until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  7. Transfer Dutch oven to the stovetop over high add the cleaned clams. Cover and cook until clams open. 3 to 5 minutes. (remove and discard any unopened clams) Season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Garnish with diced scallions
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
 

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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deconstructed BLT

I just finished putting Christmas away, which for me is about 2 weeks later than I normally put things away! This years tree lasted the longest in the house. It is usually down the day after and I will confess we have tossed it outside Christmas day eve a few times over the years just because the needles were driving me nuts.

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we have 9 foot ceilings – a little something for scale

My husband was especially attached to this years tree. It was the largest one we have ever had; we had to trim about 4 feet off of the back to push it up against the windows just so we could walk around it. Even though it is gone and the floors have been vacuumed and washed I am sure we will find a pine needle over the next few months.

I love me a great sandwich period! I literally just made a PBJ about an hour ago for a quick lunch!Image

Even though this an open faced sandwich that I am sharing it is easy to make and just as easy to eat. It is delicious I mean how can you go wrong with bacon?

Deconstructed BLT
an easy delicious open faced sandwich
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Ingredients
  1. 6 slices of Bacon
  2. 4 French baguette slices
  3. 1/4 Cup soft goat cheese
  4. 4 Cups bibb lettuce (I used boston)
  5. 2 large tomatoes sliced
  6. 1/4 Cup white balsamic vinegar (I didn' t have white)
  7. 2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1 large clove of garlic minced
  9. 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  10. 1/4 tsp salt
  11. 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon until crisp - set aside
  2. toast baguette slices until brown/crispy, spread with goat cheese and set aside
  3. divide lettuce and tomatoes among 2 plates.
  4. Whisk together vinegar and next 5 ingredients, drizzle over tomatoes and lettuce
  5. Top salad with bacon and baguette slices. Sprinkle with additional black pepper is desired.
Notes
  1. Makes 2 servings - I doubled it as there were 4 of us!
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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

 

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.

 

 

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