Caramel Salted Nuts

Did I get you at Caramel? Salt? or the Nuts? I am going to apologize up front for sharing this with all of you, they are sinfully delightful! If you choose to make them; you will not be disappointed. I seem to have a problem with taking something somewhat good for you; the nuts; and adding a little more love; the salt and the caramel to bring it another level.
IMG_5364I have made this 3 times in the last couple of weeks. While that may sound like we have gone overboard on eating caramel salted nuts; we only got to eat 2 of the batches. I am not sure if I ever mentioned my crazy dog. I call him my ungrateful rescue; he has a severe case of separation anxiety and he only does this out of spite; he really has NO idea how good he has it. I am fairly certain that most would have given him up with all his shenanigans. Destroying shoes, clothes, stairs, doors to name a few. He has also been known to counter surf on occasion;  yep he found the sealed container of nuts on the counter, took them into the den and ate ALL of them. Thankfully there were no adverse effects to his digestive system. I wonder if he even enjoyed them?
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I do need to share that he does have some good quality’s as well; you will never find a more cuddly animal. He is most happy when sitting near or better ON you. And if we could all be so lucky that someone; anyone be SO excited when you walk into a door.
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If you have never made caramel before; it really isn’t that hard. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly it is VERY hot so don’t get any on you. Secondly stir it once and then leave it alone. You can swirl the pan but let the heat do the work and you will be rewarded in kind.

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Nuts
1 cup of almonds
1 cup of pecans
1 cup of cashews
1 cup of walnuts

On a sheet pan place in a 350’F oven for about 10-15 minutes. Just enough to barely brown them. Let them cool.
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Caramel
¼ cup water
1 ½ cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a sauce pan place the sugar and water stir to combine and then let it be. You can swirl the pan a few times until it starts to brown. It will continue to brown so don’t take it too far. Remove it from the heat and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

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While the caramel is still hot add the nuts and salt into the saucepan. Working quickly spread the nut mixture onto the same sheet pan with either parchment or Silpat. Flatten out with a couple of forks the best you can. Once cooled and hardened break apart and enjoy!

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Recipe by Ina Garten  

Sweet Italian Sausage with Roasted Garlic Pesto

If you have never lived in NH let me give you a quick overview of how quickly the weather can change in just a few days.  Last Sunday it poured and was around 60’F. Thursday was 92’F with 100% humidity; which to me means a seriously bad hair and this morning we woke to 40’F. That’s a week in the life of a New Hampshirite.  These are a few short reasons why I wait to plant the gardens.
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When making a new recipe that sounds good to me and in turn I am hoping that it is one I would ke to share with all of you. Sometimes I will take pictures so if the recipe turns out yummy. I can blog about it and have everything I need. In a perfect world that would probably work. Maybe I should have a camera set up in the kitchen at all times and automatically take pictures so I don’t have to “make sure” I do it. That would be a whole lot easier let me tell you.  
IMG_5140This last week I made the recipe I am going to share with you all and we all loved it. We even had it for lunch the next day and I think it was even better. Well I took a few pictures of the very first part; roasting the garlic; and never snapped another one. So last night I went to the store around 7 o’clock to get the 2 things I was missing so I could make it again and take pictures so I could blog about it today. See how dedicated I am to you; you’re welcome wink wink!
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I know the recipe is good when I share my thoughts with my husband and he is totally on board with eating the same dish in the same week. So this one will be on my go-to list as it is pretty quick, delicious and re-heats well. I think my guys ate it cold for lunch the next day and loved it. My kind of dish!
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Sweet Italian Sausage & Pesto Pasta

1 head of garlic – roasted
1 Package of Brocolini
1/3 or so cup of Olive Oil
1/4 cup or handful of Almonds
Pinch or so of red chili flakes
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 pound package of medium shells
Kosher salt

slice the garlic in half, width wise, place in a small piece of tin-coil and drizzle the cut side with a little olive oil. loosely wrap the head and place in a 400′ oven for about 30-45 minutes. Once roasted let it cool before making the pesto.

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Using a food processor pulse the almonds until they are just broken up. add the rest of the ingredients minus the oil and pulse to combined. while the blade is running drizzle in enough olive oil to make it a loose paste.
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in a large pot fill with water; where you will be cooking your pasta and the broccolini.
generously salt the water, once it starts bubbling put in your broccolini for about a minute or two. remove to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process.
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drop your pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than the package indicates; you will be finishing off the cooking in the pan with the other ingredients.
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in a large saute pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil once hot enough; just about to smoke; , add the sausage and break it down with either a wooden spoon or a potato masher until brown. add about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pan and stir, getting up all the browned bits in the bottom of the pan.
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reserving some of the pasta water, drain your pasta and add it to the sausage pan. Add the pesto; toss to combine. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.
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Adapted from Mario Batali The Chew Orecchiette with sweet sausage and rapini

Tuscan Roasted Lemon Chicken

Another cold blustery day here in NH today – it started snowing around 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon and didn’t stop until around 10 pm last night and it still only accumulated around 3-4 inches. Just enough to make the roads a complete mess and people to lose their minds on how to drive in such conditions. I don’t mind winter and I don’t mind the snow and I don’t mind driving in it. I kind of wish everyone else would stay home; but let the games begin. It is SO pretty here today, though it is ridiculously cold out it’s a whopping 9’F needless to say I will be staying in ALL day and a day like this is totally calling for a roasted chicken.

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It tasted as yummy as it looked!



There are a million (I’m fairly certain that is not an exaggeration) ways to prep a roasted chicken. Sunday dinner I usually slice and apple and some onions and throw it in the cavity. It makes an excellent gravy. Weeknights where this isn’t a lot of time to get dinner on the table, I’ve cut up a bunch of veggies and put the bird on top and crank up the heat and roast the entire meal in about an hour and half.
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A couple of weeks ago I watched my food idol Ina Garten; the queen (in my opinion) of roasted chicken. She makes it every Friday for her husband. She made a Tuscan Lemon chicken that sounded and looked amazing. I put this on my MUST make soon dishes. That was about 2 weeks ago and I’ve already made it twice since and am planning on making it again today.
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I try to always make a recipe the exact way for the first time, then I tend to wing it or adjust to what I have on hand, or what we like. This recipe is super easy to make and for the most part I usually have everything on hand. The first time I marinated it overnight and it was really good, the next time I didn’t have the time so it was more like an hour-ish and it was AMAZING. I roasted it in the same pan, same temperature and same brand/size chicken and it was completely different. My daughter quoted from her new cookbook; The Food Lab; that the lemon juice was probably to blame. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt the author said the acid in the lemon and chicken anything over 3-4 hours will toughen the bird. Whether this is what changed my outcome is irrelevant. I am an an instant gratification kind of person and if I don’t have to marinate overnight, I am ALL in.
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Here is my adaptation of Ina’s Tuscan Lemon Chicken

1 5lb chicken, spatchcocked – you can do this, I promise! (see below)
Kosher Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
⅓ cup Olive Oil
2 lemons zested
1 lemon squeezed
3 cloves garlic minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves minced

Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic and rosemary in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a dish just large enough where it can lay flat. Pour the marinade all over the bird getting it all over both sides.
Let it sit on the counter while you preheat your oven to 425’F. If you want to a couple of hours, put in in the fridge and take it out about 15 minutes before you are ready to put it in the oven.

I cooked mine in my cast iron pan for about an hour. Please make sure to cook the the bird till the internal temperature is around 165’F – it will continue to cook a little while it is resting covered with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes.

Spatchcock directions – with either kitchen shears or a knife. Remove the back bone of the bird. Cut down one side and then the other and then push down on the bird to flatten it. That’s it – once you do this you can brag to all of your friends. I did to my co-workers, they had never heard the actual word before. If you don’t want bragging rights, your butcher will do this for you. My daughter ran into a rookie once that had no idea what she was talking about.
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Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad

Firstly I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy Holiday!

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Time has a way of clicking by pretty quickly. We are coming up on closing out 2016 but we still have a little time to enjoy not only our family and friends but some yummy food!
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These last couple of months of the year people seem to bring out some of the oldies but goodie recipes. The traditional family ones they either grew up with or started themselves years ago. I tend to mix the two a bit; or at least try to a little. Turkey for Thanksgiving, Roast Beef for Christmas. Generally the same sides that go with both and yummy gravy.
img_4817I don’t think it will come as a total shock that I have a total “life envy” of Ina Garten. She seems down to earth, her recipes have never failed me and she has a “party barn” in the Hamptons; well hers might not be a party barn but that is what mine would be if I had one in my swamp.
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Last week my husband was in the room when Ina was on The Chew and she made a Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad – it sounded so delish that my husband said “we” aka known as just me; should make that. Having yesterday off I had plenty of time to get a lot of things done so why not have something different for Christmas Eve dinner.
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It was given an 11 out of 10 so I have to share it with you and I think you should totally make it to try it for yourselves. It might sound a little tedious but it really isn’t. Roasting the carrots is the longest part and the oven is doing most of the work anyway.
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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 epsiode

Garlic & Herb Compound Butter

By now you should know if you are cooking or just eating for Thanksgiving. I have hosted Thanksgiving at my home for at least the last 13 years straight. We have been as few as 7 to as many as 23. Over the years I have only changed a few things to try to make it easier on me and in return on everyone that comes for dinner.
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I used to make one large bird, now I search for anything 10 lb and under. I feel with even cooking two smaller birds at the same time not only does it take less time in the oven, I find they are much juicier. I use the same roasting pan and they fit perfectly side by side. I can also give away a carcass for someone else to enjoy turkey soup at their house.

I also enlist whoever is around Wednesday night to help peel and dice all the vegetables place them in their pots with water and store them in the cold storage area off the garage till we need them on the stove. This year I ordered fresh rolls, I usually make them but I was my local store and there was a sign up sheet for fresh made rolls from a local bakery and I stood in line long enough; plus it was super easy to just sign my name.  KP would this be considered an impulse buy?  She loves shopping with me and always chuckles at my impulse register buys. They put things by the registers for a reason hmmm!
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This weekend is for finishing up my table center piece, I make new place cards every year so I need to finish those up.

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Before

 

 

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After

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I will toast my ciabatta bread for my sausage stuffing well actually dressing; I don’t stuff my birds. I put apples and onions in mine. And I’ve also made a garlic herb compound butter to cover my turkey’s before putting them in the oven YUM!
img_4732I do have to confess, I was just going to make herb butter, but I double checked with my daughter; should I add garlic? She was like YES we are garlic – she is right we are a little on the obsessed side of garlic so if you are not you don’t HAVE to add it.

Garlic Herb Butter

4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-3 small bunches of fresh Sage
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Chop them all up fine
3 cloves minced garlic
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You can use just a bowl and elbow grease or bring out your food processor. Cut the butter in pieces add to the bowl of the processor, add the fresh chopped herbs and a little salt and the minced garlic. Pulse till blended.

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It smells amazing – I can’t wait to use it

Now comes a kind of tricky part, placing the butter in the saran wrap so you can roll it into a log. By moving the wrap back and forth it will eventually with a little coercing become a log I promise.  It takes a couple of hours to get to its full flavor and set up. Store it in your fridge till you are ready to prep your bird. Gently loosen the skin of the breast meat on your bird and spread the butter under the skin and all over the skin. 

Happy Healthy Thanksgiving to all of you and thanks for supporting me week after week!

Thyme and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

I saw someone roasting a whole head of cauliflower on TV that looked SO good I wanted to try it. The other day I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge so I started looking for some ways to have this for dinner alongside a couple of Ribeye steaks I was making. Well lets just say baking a whole head of cauliflower takes far too long for my weeknight meal; especially since I was starting around 6:30ish. Unless I boiled it first it was going to be well over an hour in the oven. Since I had roasted cauliflower on brain I sliced it into large chunks added some sliced onion and a little garlic and some thyme roasted them in the oven for about 40 minutes.

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It also worked out quite nicely that the oven was well pre-heated for finishing off my steaks in the oven once seared in my cast iron skillet. Dinner was awesome and we had the leftovers for lunch the next day score!!!

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If you have never roasted a vegetable; I can’t stress enough how it will change your life; OK no it’s not that revolutionary but it may make some youngsters; even some adults change their minds over eating their veggies. It makes carrots, beets, butternut squash and onions sweeter. It gives asparagus and broccoli a slightly charred taste. Potatoes have a wonderful crunch and it’s the only way I like brussel sprouts. A little olive oil, salt and pepper and you’re good to go; add an herb and you won’t be disappointed.
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1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 medium onion sliced
1 tsp dried thyme or 4 fresh sprigs
3-4 gloves of garlic kept whole
2-3 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Toss the first four ingredients either on the sheet pan or if you prefer in a bowl. once on the sheet pan sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-40 minutes. sprinkle with cheese toss and roast for another 10-15 minutes longer. 

Oven Fried Chicken – must try

Both of my freezers are just ridiculously full; it could have something to do with zucchini bread but there is just no more room; so it’s time to do one of my; OK probably not my favorite; but I don’t mind cooking with what’s on hand versus doing a full grocery shopping every week. It not only saves me a boatload of money; It makes me be a little more creative and also helps use up things before they go bad. It does take me about a month or so to get both freezers a little less crowded or at least enough that I can tell what the heck is in there.

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Here in marks another quandary; I do try to make an effort to mark the containers but sometimes I’m like oh I will know exactly what that is, I’m sure I’ll remember the color of the cover for the marinara sauce is 3 months or even 3 weeks later and I am just so wrong but I still do it; I have issues. The other day I saw a tub of a red sauce I opened it, smelled it and I am not sure what kind of marinara it is or what it was for or from. I do know that I will take it out of the freezer put it in the fridge and in a couple of days I will be making something with it. I mean why would I have saved it if I didn’t have a plan. Yeah pretty thin huh; I think so too.

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I took out some chicken thighs and saw a recipe for fried chicken so of course I wanted fried chicken. But I wasn’t up to getting out the oil heating it up and start frying it was getting late it was a weeknight and I just didn’t want to clean up that much of a mess. If you have never tried oven fried chicken, it is a thing and it is pretty damn good. Also if you have never tried Franks Hot Sauce you need to pick up a bottle and put it in your fridge. I use it all the time, it’s not too hot and adds a little heat right when/where you need it.

Oven Fried Chicken

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2 large eggs
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS honey
1 TBS hot sauce – Franks
Kosher salt and Freshly cracked black pepper
2 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
2 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
8 chicken thighs

2 pie plates or shallow dish – 1 for the liquid the other for the dry ingredients
In 1 whisk eggs, mustard, honey, hot sauce and salt and pepper
In the other add the panko, paprika, cayenne, garlic and salt and pepper whisk to combine

img_4542Dredge the chicken in the wet ingredients and then into the dry ingredients pressing the breadcrumbs as needed.

img_4539img_4543Place chicken on a wire rack over a sheet tray. You can line the tray with tinfoil to help with cleanup and spray the wire rack with nonstick spray. Make sure the chicken are not touching and lightly spray with the nonstick spray, they do make an olive oil one that is quite nice. It helps brown and crisp up the chicken in the oven.
In the upper rack of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes until chicken is about 140 degrees; browned and crispy. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

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Foil packet of summer squash salt pepper & a tbs of butter Yum!

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Oven roasted sweet potato fries with olive oil rosemary salt and pepper Delish!!!

 


Recipe adapted from the Neelys