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

Sage Butter Garlic Pork Chops

A couple of weeks ago I made pork chops for dinner. Sound simple enough but apparently they were the best pork chops my husband has ever had. I am not entirely sure how to take that. Were all the other pork chops terrible? Am I too sensitive? Was it my way of preparing them or was it because I bought them from a butcher? Honestly I believe it was the butcher but I am going to take a little of the credit. I mean I went to the butcher shop and bought them, I seasoned them and I cooked them to the correct temperature. So I can take some of the credit right?
IMG_4016For some of my local followers I got them at the Flying Butcher in Nashua and they were bone in. I will be picking them up again soon. Maybe I will make them differently just to see if it was me or them? Let it go Donna!
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I didn’t start out adding apples, white wine and a little chicken stock but I couldn’t help myself. I had all on hand and they go so well together it was hard not to add the apples.

I started with just making seasoned chops and was going to make a simple garlic butter and sage pan sauce with sweet potato rosemary chips on the side. I ended up adding apples, wine and a little chicken stock. I really don’t measure so if your pan is too dry add more liquid.
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Ingredients

Ingredients 4 bone in pork chops Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper 2 tablespoons butter Olive oil 5-6 sage leaves 1-2 apples peeled and sliced 2-3 garlic cloves chopped ¼ cup white wine ½ cup chicken stock Potato wedges 1-2 sweet potatoes Rosemary chopped Olive Oil

Directions

Directions Let the pork chops sit on the counter and come to room temperature while you get everything out. Season both sides with salt and pepper. IMG_4008IMG_4009If you are making the sweet potato chips, peel and slice, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper them; add chopped fresh rosemary. Place them a sheet pan and place in a 350’F oven for about 30 minutes; flipping once. Till they are soft and have a little color IMG_4005IMG_4007IMG_4017Heat your pan a little and then add some olive oil. Once the pan and oil are heated add the chops. Let them sit there for at least 3 minutes. Flip them and let them sit there for another 3 minutes or so. Continue flipping after 2-3 minutes until they are cooked through. I recommend 145’ internal temperature for a juicy chop. Once cooked through remove them from the pan and set aside. IMG_4011IMG_4012IMG_4013Add white wine or just use chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Add the butter and sage as well as the apples and garlic and saute till the apples are cooked through. Adding stock as needed. This should take around 5-6 minutes. Place the chops on your serving dish and pour the apple mixture over them and enjoy!

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Roasted sheet pan dinner

It is finally feeling a little like spring around here. The sun is shining, the wind isn’t too bad and the bugs are not around yet so I spent 4 hours outside raking and still have another 4ish or at least someone else has another 4 or so I mean I don’t want to have all the fun!
IMG_4025.JPGI mentioned the other day I wanted to make a sheet pan meal. Well it was worth the wait. It was easy to prep, mostly hands off cooking and the flavor was on point. I will confess I was a little hesitant to add everything including the chicken into one bowl but everything was going to be cooked on the same sheet and at 425’ for 35-45 minutes it will be fine!
IMG_4018I will be making this again; and am looking forward to playing around with different flavors; I think there is endless possibilities to try. It actually might become a staple this summer especially when there is so many other things to do with the longer days.
IMG_4019I do want to mention that you might need to pay attention to what veggies you are cooking. Carrots take longer than potatoes, beets take longer than carrots you get the picture. If you want to stagger than you can, I did not and beets and carrots were cooked but still had a little firmness to them. You can also slice the carrots smaller than the potatoes so the cook around the same time.
IMG_4020.JPGIngredients
6 chicken thighs
2-3 potatoes – or use 6-7 small baby reds
4-5 carrots
3 beets – optional
1 large onion sliced
2-3 garlic cloves sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 lemons juiced
Salt and black pepper

Directions
Peel and slice the veggies and place in a large bowl. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides; add them to the bowl. Add the oil, lemon, rosemary and season with salt and pepper.

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I added the beets after I put everything else on the sheet – didn’t want everything purple

Spread everything out on the sheet pan. For easy clean up (it still made a mess but it was less) cover your sheet with non stick foil. Spread everything out the best you can and bake for 35-45 minutes.
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Corned Beef & Cabbage – Hash

Did you pick up your corned beef for next weekend? I was sitting here wondering about the origin of the New England boiled dinner and why it is synonymous with St Patrick’s day! So instead of writing I have been reading. What I came up with is it was basically a poor man’s meal. Brisket is a cheaper cut of meat, corned comes from the large salt pieces to cure it. Americans didn’t invent it, it didn’t come here with the Irish immigrants, from what I read they are not eating this meal next Sunday in Ireland. the English were boiling meat long before we made this a staple here in New England on St Paddy’s day.

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this is an older picture of the same meal – been making this for YEARS!

None of this has changed my mind on whether or not I am going to make it next weekend; I am and yes I picked up my corned beef along with many other people. It was actually kind of like a frenzy at one of the stores I went to. Well there was a few people who were grabbing 3 or 4 of them a little more aggressively than I thought warranted.

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chopped up leftover corned beef hash

Confession time I actually made this last weekend as well. I was craving corned beef hash and yes I could have just bought a chunk of beef from the deli but it’s just not the same as having all the veggies and cabbage cooked in the salty water. In my reading this morning I am going to do something a little different for me. I am going to add beets to the pot. I don’t know of anyone that adds beets to their boiled dinner. But I am going to try it out. And I am looking forward to making red flannel hash which I have never had and honestly never really thought about why it was called that. So now I am interested it trying it next week.
img_3964.jpgSince this is such a simple meal and you can totally make it your own here is just the basic information.

Ingredients
2 Corned beef – flat cut or point cut / either is fine, I like point cut better – always 2 think leftovers
Potatoes – peeled and chunked – you don’t want them too small they will disintegrate
Carrots
Rutabaga
Cabbage
Bay leaf
Peppercorns

Above is what I grew up with and still make. But you can use any root vegetable you like. Parsnips, turnip, beets.

Directions
Place the corned beef in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a bay leaf or two, some pepper corns. Bring to a boil and then lower the temp so it is simmering. Place the cover to your pot a little crooked so the steam can escape. Simmer for 3+ hours till the beef is nice and tender. Remove the beef to a plate or bowl and cover with tinfoil. Place the potatoes and veggies in the same water and bring to a boil, lower and simmer for about an hour till the rutabaga is soft. Add the cabbage during the last 15 minutes.

Veggies can be cooked separately if you would rather; but that’s a lot of dishes to clean. You can also stagger the veggies.  Rutabagas take the longest, then carrots and finally potatoes.
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Corned beef hash

leftovers
onion – diced  – I had some shallots so I diced one of those up too
olive oil
egg

dice up the veggies and beef. In a fry pan add a little oil and saute the onion. add the veggies and fry up till crispy edges, add the beef and cook till all warmed through. top with a poached or fried egg.
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Scalloped Potatoes – must try

So I am going to go out on a limb that when I posted this recipe 4 years ago; none of you made it. Do you want to know how I know. I googled my blog while I was at the store to make sure I had what I needed and noticed I left out an ingredient hmmmmmm. Not my first time and probably won’t be my last. But a couple of my close friends that read my posts called me out on missing ingredients before and no one said anything this time.

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You can sprinkle a little of the cheddar cheese on top – I did not in this picture. My mouth is watering as I am typing and looking at them – they are SO good!

As you can probably tell I don’t make these very often; not because they are not crazy good; only because there are rich and creamy which so they would not be your weekly go to if you wanted to watch what you eat. I was trying to come up with a way not to deter you from wanting to try these. They truly are worth making/eating once in a while

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I used a mandolin to slice my potatoes but it is not necessary


Ingredients
4 cups thinly sliced potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
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Directions – making a roux
In a small sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in the flour. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add all of cold milk at once stirring with a whisk; season with salt and cayenne. Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk and it thickens a bit. Reduce heat and stir in cheese.

Place a half of the sliced potatoes in a lightly greased one quart casserole dish. Pour half of cheese sauce over potatoes.

repeat with second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake uncovered for an hour at 350°F

 

Sausage, spinach, tomato tortellini soup

Soup is my jam period – I mentioned quite a while ago my dream of opening a soup joint or something along those lines. I also share quite a few soup recipes on this blog and I am pretty  sure I will continue to do so. Every time I make a soup that makes me smile, and no not all of them do, I have failed or made just meh soup before but my successes far outweigh my failures. When it is a fabulous one I say out loud to no one in particular “the world needs to have this” and since I don’t have a soup joint and I don’t know everyone in the world I will share another warm, tasty, comfort bowl full of goodness with you all.
img_3953.jpgMy husband even said this was his favorite soup that I have made, that’s saying something! It is definitely in my top 5 but I have made and shared some pretty incredible soups over the years.
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The one common denominator is homemade chicken stock. If you are still not making your own broth, we need to talk. It is SO easy to do using your slow cooker and a leftover chicken carcass. Put the chicken in the bowl add a couple of roughly chopped carrots, celery, onion and some garlic. Cover with water and place on low overnight. In the morning strain out the liquid gold and discard of all the veggies and bones. Taste it to see if you like it or if it needs a little salt. I let it sit all day or overnight in my fridge to let the fat solidify so I can remove it all. Freeze it or use it now!

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Start by using the best ingredients you can find and your soup will be delicious!
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Sausage, Spinach, Tomato, Tortellini soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounce sweet italian sausage, casings removed roughly 2 long links
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
6 cups chicken broth
1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
10-12 ounce package of fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
5-6 ounces baby spinach
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and break it up a bit, add the onion and cook till the sausage is cooked through a little browned, about 10 minutes making sure to break up the large chunks. Add the garlic and the oregano cook for another minute.
IMG_3950Add the broth and the tomatoes. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini, lower the heat to a simmer. Cook till the tortellini is tender, according to the package directions about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach, and cook till it is just about wilted. Season with salt and pepper, grate some fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese over it and serve.
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Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking magazine

turkey rice soup – tis the season

I would love to say I am getting ready for the big game later today, don’t get me wrong I am super pumped and looking forward to it. I just am bummed that my husband and I are both sick, mostly now just congestion and a persistent cough; so we can’t have friends over, I have to call my in-laws and tell them to stay home and I feel so bad but I will not be the one to get them sick. I am going to have one of my kids bring them over a portion of our Super Bowl spread that I am serving to just us.  GO PATS!!!!

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better than anything I could have bought!

What is on your menu today? We are having meatball grinders, wings of some sort, jalapeno popper dip that I had for the first time a couple of weeks ago and loved it. I was originally going to share that recipe with you but will need to wait on that since I wasn’t able to make it and take pictures for you. I will work on that!

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turkey broth frozen into 2 cup portions

I hope you forgive me for posting another soup recipe but tis the season and there really isn’t anything more comforting than a bowl of homemade warm soup. One day last week my daughter offered to grab me soup from somewhere up town, she mentioned a few places that have soup and while they are OK I went over in my fever induced head each one and knew they were all going to be a disappointment – apparently I have become a soup snob. Which is why I made my own last night for dinner.

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turkey rice soup with garlic cheesy bread

You can build so much flavor in your own kitchen plus add ingredients you like and have on hand. I had 8 cups of turkey broth in my freezer from Thanksgiving, a package of turkey cutlets in the fridge and always have vegetables on hand.  Here is how I made this particular soup but feel free to use the concept and use your own ingredients.
IMG_3931Turkey rice soup

8 cups turkey broth
4 turkey cutlets
1/4 cup Jasmati rice
2 small onions – diced
3 carrots – diced
2 ribs celery – diced
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Using the same pot, so you can build flavors. season both sides of the cutlets and brown in a little bit of olive oil. remove once browned on both sides and set aside.

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building flavor

 

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Nothing but flavor right there

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make sure to scrape up all the brown aka flavor

Add the onions, celery and carrots, if needed add a small amount of oil. Cook for a minute or two. Add broth and rice plus any of the juices from the cutlets.

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only takes about 5-8 minutes for the broth to thaw


bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

BBQ pulled pork pasta

I know I have mentioned several times that dinner sometimes comes from whatever I have on hand. There are certain leftovers that I admit kind of stump me with how I can re-invent them. There are only so many pulled pork sandwiches one can eat; at least once the coleslaw is gone.
img_3897.jpgI was going to make nachos with the leftover BBQ pulled pork but I just wasn’t feeling it. So I decided to try something new; to us and has a little more substance than just tortilla chips with toppings. It does help that I do have a well stocked pantry and I am on a kick to start cooking with what I have on hand and only shop for the essentials.
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I would love to tell you that I succeed with cleaning out the freezer and pantry but after a few weeks I usually cave and get bored with what I have on hand. Though right now I couldn’t fit one more thing in my freezer and my pantry is a train wreck so I am going to try really hard this time.
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I would probably use a creamier cheese next time I make this, only because cheddar; while one of my favorites was a little hard to stir it into the pasta and meat mixture. Also if you don’t have cumin on hand you can use one of the following chili powder,  Garam Marsala, ground coriander, or curry powder.
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Ingredients
1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
1 medium green or red pepper, chopped
1 medium/large cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
BBQ pulled pork, approx 16 ounces
1 can mild rotel
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used Garam Marsala – it was in my pantry)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (a creamier cheese would be great here – Goat cheese, feta or even mozzarella, grueyre)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Directions
Cook pasta according to the directions on the package

Heat the butter and oil in your skillet, saute the onions, pepper for 3-5 minutes on med-low heat or until they are soft. Add the garlic, cook for another minute or so. Add the pork, rotel, broth and cumin. Saute until heated through.  Add the cheese at the last minute just till it melts. Serve and sprinkle with a few green onions.
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Chicken Gnocchi Soup – Crockpot

We have finally gotten to the weekend free to do what you have ignored for the last 2 months because of the holidays. 99% of the decorations are put away, I still have the porch looking a little festive but I am down with that. Plus its too early for the Spring look and I don’t really have anything for the in between and I don’t want it to be naked; it would look too depressing.
IMG_3891.JPGYesterday was also the first time I have done a “normal” grocery shopping. Basically meaning I didn’t need to pick up anything for a particular dessert, casserole or a dinner in general. I can get back into a somewhat normal routine. Which in itself can be very calming at least in my world.
IMG_3879.JPGToday I figured; well most Sundays I try to prep for the week ahead; as best I can anyway. I figure I can at least take care of breakfast, lunches and snacks; for the most part. Dinner is usually whatever I have in the fridge or freezer. More often than not I look in the fridge and see what I need to use up or clean out and that dictates what we are having for dinner.

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The soup I am going to share with you literally was because I bought a huge bag of gnocchi from my favorite farmers market in Montreal over New Years; if you are ever in Montreal, Quebec please visit Atwater Market or Jean Talon Market – you won’t be disappointed. I also had a larger than we normally buy half and half that will most definitely go bad before my husband has enough coffee to use it all up. Plus I had just made some chicken stock the night before so instead of freezing it I thought I could make a soup. Add a few more ingredients and voila dinner or lunch is ready.
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I need to give a shout out to my sister-in-law for the bay leaf – she brought me a baggie full from her bay leaf plant that she has growing at her house. Yeah I didn’t even know that was a thing. Let me just say that the ones I buy from the spice aisle in the grocery store is lets just say less than stellar in comparison. Her’s is SO easy to find and pull out of whatever I added it to. the ones from the store if I can find a whole one are a whole other story.

Ingredients
2 pounds chicken breast
½ cups shredded carrots
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 package approx 16 ounces potato gnocchi
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Directions
Place the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add carrots and garlic. Along with the spices. Cover with the chicken broth or stock, whatever you have on hand. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

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Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the chicken and once cooled a bit; shred or dice whatever you like. Make a slurry with the half and half and cornstarch and add it along with the gnocchi to the pot. Place the chicken back in the pot. Cover and place on high for about 30 minutes or so. You want to make sure the gnocchi is cooked through and the soup thickens. 
img_3890Add the spinach just before serving and allow it to wilt a bit. Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted: www.fivehearthome.com

Scallopini – Milanese – Piccata

Super quick dinner that everyone will love; if they don’t you are probably reading / following the wrong blog. Or maybe should rethink who you eat dinner with – OK I know you can’t probably stop feeding your kids but you can definitely make them take the “no thank you” bite and they might just like it enough to keep going.
IMG_3737.JPGYou might be thinking I am confused today having 3 different “meals” listed in the title. Well it is quite possible. Last night was our annual Christmas party and I am literally writing this while setting up for it and directing 3 of my on hand “staff” aka as my daughter, one of her friends and my sister-in-law. So if this blog is a little frazzled you’ll know why.  I am SUPER multi-tasking right this minute.

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Yes that is my glass of wine – wink wink

OK so back to why I listed the 3 above and they actually are in order of how you can make a quick dinner that again you will love. They all start with thin sliced meat. Usually Chicken but I had Turkey on hand and usually always do in my freezer so that is what I used. So thin sliced meat lightly breaded and fried in a little oil in the pan. This is the definition of Scallopini. To make it a Milanese you need to make a sauce by deg-lazing the pan with white wine and a little lemon juice and then finish it off with a tab of butter. Then to make it a Piccata you add a small jar of capers. Voila dinner 3 ways!
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Turkey, Chicken or Veal cutlets – buy them or slice your own
salt & pepper
flour
2 tablespoon Olive or vegetable oil
¼ cup white wine
3 cloves garlic
½ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 jar capers
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lemon sliced

Salt and pepper both sides of the cutlets, dredge lightly in flour. Shake off the excess.
IMG_3726IMG_3727Swirl some oil in your saute pan, place them in the pan, not touching and leave them alone until they release on their own. Should be about 3-5 minutes. Flip, cover and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside. If there is excess fat in the pan, pour it off.  
IMG_3729IMG_3730Deg-laze the pan with white wine and add the minced garlic; cook the garlic just till it starts to get brown and cook till the liquid is about gone. Don’t walk away from the stove about 2 minutes. Add the broth, lemon juice and capers.
IMG_3731IMG_3732IMG_3733Return the cutlets to the pan and let the juice reheat the meat up. Transfer to a warm plate.
IMG_3734IMG_3735For the sauce add the butter and sliced lemons, once the butter melts pour the sauce over the cutlets. If you want to be fancy and have fresh parsley it looks really nice chopped sprinkled on top.