California Rolls in Cancun

So my husband and I spent 5 wonderful days in Cancun for my birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary this last week.  We love heading south whenever we can; Mexico is not usually on our radar ever since our first visit in 1989; however a couple of years ago we were desperate to get away and money was tight. We don’t usually look for all-inclusive resorts either but we wanted something simple and inexpensive.  We found Live Aqua an adult only all-inclusive with great reviews.  We decided to try it out; it was WELL worth the trip.  The place is very clean, the staff if very nice, and the food was excellent.  This trip was no exception; we will definitely go back again.  We did notice s few differences this trip from last; they have more options of places to eat and we loved them all and there were definitely a lot more people this time around; I think the word has leaked out!

I came back to our room with this written on our bed in red colored rice. a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberry's.  He is so sweet!

I came back to our room with this written on our bed in red colored rice. a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberry’s. He is so sweet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My hesitation with Mexico was because in the late 80’s you couldn’t walk off your resort property without being harassed by very persistent people trying to sell timeshares.   I was also 3 months pregnant with my first; so that might have had a little to do with my dislike.  They were also still recovering from hurricane Gilbert that hit in 1988.  The beaches were pretty much non-existent in 1989. We were supposed to go to Cancun for our honeymoon but Gilbert put a kibosh on those plans; we ended up in Barbados – which is one of my top 5 islands to visit.  On our 2011 trip I do recall asking my husband while walking on the beach “was it this nice last time we were here”? They have come a long way and have converted my opinion.

I never in a million years thought that I would be able to take a sushi class while in Mexico.  We were sitting out by the pool and the one of the activity staff was asking if anyone wanted to learn how to make sushi; I signed up immediately.  I have been asked to have a sushi class; my daughter is living in Japan and I made a vow to try to learn to like sushi.  Here was my first chance; and I was excited to try.

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The rice was beyond sticky; I couldn’t get it off of my hands to save my life. It was relatively easy to make; I will definitely need to practice the rolling technique but I think it is attainable. I know that California rolls are not a raw fish variety of sushi; but you’ve got to start somewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

California Roll

1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
4 sheets nori
1/2 batch sushi rice, recipe follows
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchstick-size pieces
4 crabsticks, torn into pieces
Pickled ginger, for serving
Wasabi, for serving
Soy sauce, for serving

Cover a bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap. Cut nori sheets in half crosswise. Lay 1 sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the plastic covered mat. Wet your fingers with water and spread about 1/2 cup of the rice evenly onto the nori. Turn the sheet of nori over so that the rice side is down. Place 1/8 of the cucumber, avocado and crab sticks in the center of the sheet. Grab the edge of the mat closest to you, keeping the fillings in place with your fingers, and roll it into a tight cylinder, using the mat to shape the cylinder. Pull away the mat and set aside.  Cut each roll into 6 pieces. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

Sushi Rice

2 cups sushi or short grain rice
2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.

Place the rice and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi or sashimi.

Yield: 4 cups

We had some very good friends of ours were staying down the road with a bunch of their friends; totally unplanned;  we all met up for a very nice dinner at La Cappilla which was in the Marriott Hotel about halfway between our hotel and theirs.  We were one of 6 couples and 5 couples ordered the same meal Chateaubriand for two.  I just had to show you the pictures; it was simply AMAZING

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Chateaubriand for two –
Center cut tenderloin 22 oz. for $690 peso’s
There was barely enough room for all the platters.

There were two of these on the platter.  Shear garlic heaven.

There were two of these on the platter. Shear garlic heaven.

Christmas Party Prep – Strata & Hashbrown Casserole

We have an annual Christmas party usually the 2nd Friday of December.  It is generally an eclectic group of friends.  Some years we have 20 people coming and going other years 50+ I think last year was well over 50 people I serioulsy stopped counting.  We have a good friend that comes dressed as Santa most years – he has a wicked side so he tends to brings nips for the adults, thankfully there are not many kids that come but if they do, Santa is always a huge hit and plays nice with the kids and takes pictures.  It is super cute.

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My house tends to be pretty crazy with people coming and going all night but it is always fun.  Last year we had 13 people stay over; there were makeshift beds and bodies everywhere I swear. Breakfast was for 18; my in-laws live next door and housed some other party goers. Thankfully for the following 2 breakfast casserole dishes that I make up the day before; my husband was able to make breakfast for everyone, I was a little under the weather – if you know what I mean.  I also make some sort of bread or muffin the day before.  Just in case….

Strata:

4 Slices of white bread

3 breakfast sausage crumbled and cooked

1 pint of egg beaters + 2 eggs – mixed

1 1/2 Cups milk – mix with above eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 Scallions or Several chives

1-2 tsp thyme

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Spray a 9/13 pan with cooking spray, rip the bread in pieces and fill the bottom of the dish. Cover with cheese and the cooked sausage.  Slowly poor the egg & milk mixture over the bread and sausage; sprinkle with thyme, scallions, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let set overnight.  Next morning; take out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter while the oven pre-heats to 350’ remove plastic and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.

Hashbrown Casserole:

3-4 pieces of your favorite breakfast sausage crumbled and browned

Bag of hashbrown (frozen section)

1 medium onion diced

2 Tbs butter

2-3 Tbs flour

1 cup milk

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Crumble and brown the breakfast sausage; remove from the pan (leaving the grease) and set aside.  Add hashbrowns a little at time – I like to make sure they are a little browned and crunchy.  Remove potatoes and set aside.  Add and melt the butter add the onion and cook till softened.  Add the flour to make a roux – should be consistency of wet sand. Cook for about 3-4 minutes; add the milk all at once; stir and cook till thickened approx. 8 minutes.  You are going to want to mix sausage, potatoes, onions and roux well and put in a 9×13 pan and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Again I like them pretty browned.

One of our very good friends comes and plays the piano, we start out with all the Christmas carols we know and love. We hand out homemade booklets with all the words to the carols. One of my favorite quotes from one of my guests was “why is there a piano over there? I am NOT singing Christmas carols!  By the end of the night, he was not only requesting songs, he was actually singing solos – LOVE IT!!!!  We always save the best song for last The 12 Days of Christmas, we assign; actually by this time people are volunteering to be a certain day. Rich and his crew are always 5 golden rings. Quite comical since this is the only song my husband sings.  But he does it with such panache let me tell you arms open wide and there is no mistaken what they are singing!!!

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After caroling we break out the old standards.  Elton John, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Abba and whatever show tunes we think we can sing.  Last year was the first year we were able to belt out Bohemian Rhapsody in its entirety.  I may have had my cocktail hearing aids on (remember above me being slighlty under the weather the next morning) but we sounded AMAZING!

I am so looking forward to this year’s party – every year we talk about finding words to songs and displaying them on the flat screen, we find reading over the “Piano Man’s” (as we have dubbed him) shoulder at those tiny little words is just damn near impossible these days.  It stinks having older eyes. Maybe I will spend some quality time between now and then to see if I could do something about it.  If anyone has any ideas, please share how to make this happen.

I do have another unconventional way of getting ready for the Holiday’s – we on occasion spend a few days after Thanksgiving in the Caribbean somewhere.  This being my husband and my 25th Wedding Anniversary we are currently in Cancun enjoying some rest, relaxation, sun and a massage or two.

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Happy Holidays!!!!

Christmas Cookies

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Last Saturday a very good friend of mine came over and we made cookies ALL day.  We both wanted to get a jump on the holiday baking by making cookies and dough for the freezer.  Both forms will last roughly 3-4 weeks in the freezer as long as you double wrap them they will taste just like you made them fresh that day.

We made 5 different kinds and a double batch of each.  Some may not be “holiday” cookies per say but they will definitely help with having a quick dessert when friends and family stop over.

We made Chocolate Chip, Snicker Doodles, Peanut Butter, Sugar and Gingerbread men.  We made all the gingerbread men so we will just need to take them out of the freezer and decorate with frosting or leave as is, they are delicious.  The peanut butter dough will be made into thumbprints with kisses in the middle – I can’t wait for that I LOVE peanut butter. The sugar cookie dough we can thaw a little roll out and cut to whatever shapes we want.  I love decorating sugar cookies, I love making different colored frosting for them.  I am not a great cookie decorator but they’re yummy.

Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe – 350’ approximately 12-15 minutes

2 Cups all-purpose flour

½ Teaspoon Baking Powder

¼ Teaspoon salt

2 Sticks unsalted butter softened but still cool

1 Cup sugar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 Large egg

1 ½ Teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl set aside.

Using a mixer (or by hand) cream the butter, with both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, add egg and vanilla, beat till combined.  Immediate use, take dough and split it in half, make into a disc shape and wrap in plastic; place in the fridge for about 30 minutes at the very least.  If you are rolling and cutting, work with 1 disc at a time, roll onto a lightly floured surface; roll to about ¼ inch thickness and choose your cutting tool(s) bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes (every oven is different) you want them done through but not too browned. Let them set on the sheet for 3 minutes than transfer to a wire rack.  Once cooled you can decorate as you wish

Who doesn’t love fresh out of the oven cookies? We are kind of cookie snobs in a way that we like fresh that day cookies, so I would cook a batch and roll up the remainder of the batter into a log, double wrap it and place it in the freezer for a later date.  I don’t know about your families but my guys have a hard time keeping their paws off both, cookies and dough.  When said later date came, no dough AUGH!!!!

I have always made chocolate chip cookies but was always searching for an amazing tasting and looking cookie.  My husband and I challenged each other to a chocolate chip cookie bakeoff.  I think we made 3 or 4 batches of cookies before I was named champion!!!!  It amazes me how different memories are for people.  He swears he was the winner.  Too bad for him that when we did this I posted it on FB so I could SHOW him who truly won!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – 325’ approximately 15-18 minutes

2 Cups all-purpose flour + 2 Tablespoons

½ Teaspoon Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Salt

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 Tablespoons Margarine (both melted together and cooled until warm)

1 Cup packed Brown Sugar

½ Cup sugar

1 Large Egg plus 1 Large Egg Yolk

2 Teaspoons Vanilla

2 Handfuls of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (more or less – whatever you like)

Whisk together Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt in a medium bowl and set aside

Using a mixer (or by hand) cream the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended, add egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients and beat on low just to combine.  Stir in chips to taste.

Make about 18 large cookies or you can make them into smaller size

For the large cookies there is a cool trick to make them look like the ones you can buy in certain shops. Take about a ¼ cup of dough and roll into a ball. Take the ball and break it in half, rotate the halves 90 degrees, put the dough back together with the jagged edges facing up and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake in a 325’ oven for 15-18 minutes. Bake until they are light golden brown. For chewy cookies, do not over bake. Cool the cookies on the sheet and remove once cooled.

App’s Class quote “My apron strings fell into the toilet”

Thursday night I had an appetizer class; I had 3 people sign up; I generally do 4 people and sometimes more.  I believe I couldn’t fill the class for a couple of reasons; I really only use Face Book to promote and word of mouth; and I am just not that great at self-promotion also I believe it has a lot to do with this time of the year; everyone is SO busy.  The reason I say that is I just returned from the grocery store and a former participant asked me when the appetizer class will be. She said she really wanted to go but had been away and busy and hadn’t checked when it was.  So I explained it already happened she asked if I would please do it again.

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Well she missed a good one; we had SO much fun; laughter was definitely part of the menu; someone came out of the bathroom and exclaimed “My apron strings fell into the toilet; I got them out before I peed on them; but you’re going to want to wash this apron”. I swear I can’t even make this shit up. Thankfully I do wash everything after a class. But we had a nice long laugh at that exclamation.

If you read my last post, I mentioned a very good friend of mine doing the worm; well she came to her first class this week; which is probably another reason why we laughed so much.  She is one of the funniest and most fun people I know.  Most are had to be there moments; so I can’t come up with one particular story as they are all just ongoing I swear.  She did pay me some very nice compliments that I want to share.  She was torn between telling everyone what fun we had or just keeping it to herself; just so she always had a spot; she didn’t want to come to a class and have it full and not get in.  Yeah like that would happen; she will always have a spot full or not.  She has also proclaimed to be my marketing director and has some great ideas for me.  Can’t wait to discuss; she is too damn cute!

Part of class is I send everyone home with whatever is left over.  She was planning on hosting Happy Hour Saturday night at her place; she ended up serving all the appetizers I sent her home with plus her yummy slow cooked wings off the grill.  I can tell you right now; if; I mean when she comes to her next class; you might want to sign up as well.  I can promise yummy food and a few short cuts and cooking tips; just how funny she is would be the worth the price of admission.

2 of everyone’s favorite- they actually voted– it was quite comical

Yummy Bacon Dip

1 8 ounce package Cream Cheese

3 Tablespoons horseradish (squeezed dry)

1 Medium seeded chopped tomato

6 Slices cooked bacon crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon until crispy, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let them meld for about 30 minutes. This can be served at room temperature

Tomato & Whipped Feta Crostini

6 ounces crumbled feta

2 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)

2/3 cup olive oil – divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon

2 tablespoons minced shallots (approx.. 2)

2 teaspoons minced garlic (approx.. 2 cloves)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2-3 different type/color pints of cherry tomatoes (sliced in half or quartered)

3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving

2 tablespoons pine nuts

French baguette (sliced and baked till lightly browned)

Add feta and cream cheese in bowl of a food processor, pulse until they are mixed. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.

Combine shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl, set aside for 5 minutes.  Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasoning.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of toast with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top.  Top with pine nuts and extra basil.

Midnight McDonald’s Run & The Worm

The title may have grabbed your attention; but I promise they have nothing to do with each other.

So last night we went to surprise a very good friend at a pub about an hour and half away.  You know how you get there kind of early; around 9pm and no one is really taking advantage of the DJ playing songs. There was a guy dancing all by himself having a ball; I know this because I read his lips when he looked over at his friends and said; “I just can’t stop” He was definitely worth watching. Think Elaine from Seinfeld Hilarious!!!!

The night goes and people (including our party) start getting their groove on; I am guessing in part because of liquid courage (not me I was DD); if you know what I mean. We have one person in our party is ALWAYS the life of the party and she decided to do “the worm” not once but several times. Majority of our party are in their 50’s or getting close too (I have a few more years). One notable comment was; I haven’t been to a bar that plays music for years; “is this the crap they play now” Yeah he was older than 50.

We left very close to midnight; I could’t believe we stopped at McDonld’s for a midnight snack. I can’t even remember the last time that happened. It was pretty disapointing; but it filled the void.

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Today was pretty productive: I made homemade waffles – YUM! got some Christmas shopping done; got my CC shutoff; seems they thought there was some fraud going on; I didnt buy that much and nothing odd I swear; they did call to double check so we are good to go! Went grocery shopping; made Corned Beef and Cabbage, a couple of Lasagna’s I always more than one; you make that much of a mess; you need to make it worth your while.  It freezes well and I love having a yummy homemade dinner without ANY effort on busy week nights.  I even made brownies.  I am about to start gathering some recipes for an Appetizer class I am going to have later this week.  Need to mention that I will need to wash my floors before class; I will just say that my buddy who likes to do the “worm” wants to take one of my classes and is signed up for this one coming up.  Going to be a good one I think!

Waffles

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Egg yolks

1/2 cup canola oil (or like)

2 egg whites

In a small bowl combine flour, salt, powder.  In another bowl slightly beat the egg yolks, beat in the milk and oil. add the egg yolk mixture to the flour and stir just till incorporated; lumpy is OK. I use my mixer to beat the egg whites till frothy. Gently fold into the batter. Do not over mix and OK to leave some egg whites unmixed.  Use your waffle make according to it;’s direction.  My batter this morning made 8 waffles.

Pantry Staples

I have been asked several times to make listing of pantry staples.  There are definite items that if on hand; you can create an meal and app or a yummy snack.

I am going to show you a picture of 1 of my shelves in my pantry – If it was organized better I might share the whole thing with you but – it is not at the moment so trust me you don’t want to see it. – Don’t judge me!

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I have a favorite grocery store that I do look at their flyer when it comes and if the staples I use are on sale; I tend to buy several to keep on hand.  We always have a wide variety of cheeses; Hard, Soft, Sharp, Mild, Stinky – we will try anything once, we did find a yummy soft cheese called Port Salut if you see it, buy it! It is mild in flavor but really yummy!

Pasta: Spaghetti, Elbow, Lasagna, Fettuchini, Orzo and Egg Noodles or your favorite shape-You can make just about anything with pasta.

Rice: several kinds of rice are great to have on hand, My favorites are Arborio, Jasmine and a brown rice.  I also keep boxes of rice pilaf just in case. Instead of water use stock to cook the rice – it adds SO much flavor!

Canned Goods: Beans, Refried Beans, Pinto, Black Beans, Cannellini, Kidney, Rotel, Spaghetti Sauce, Tomato Sauce, San Marzano seeded Plum Tomatoes, Tomato Paste in a tube – Best invention ever!!!  Trying to use up a whole small can of tomato paste before it went bad was a pain.  You can make an awesome chili (see below)

Stocks: Chicken, Beef and Veggie stock are always in my pantry, even though I do make and freeze homemade stock; I go through SO much of it I have to keep it on hand.

Oils & Vinegars: Canola Oil, Extra Virigin Olive Oil (find one you like the taste of and stick to it) Soy Sauce, Vinegars there are so many and I swear if you have space for them, buy several different kinds to have on hand, Apple Cider, Red Wine, White, Rice Wine are used in so many recipes.  I also love having Capers on hand; all you need a a couple of lemons and some boneless chicken and voila chicken picata YUM!

Spices & Herbs: Kosher Salt, Black Pepper Corns, you also need table salt and pepper, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes. My all time favorite go to seasoning is Adobo – I use it on Steak, Chicken, Eggs, Fish, Tuna just about anything I can. It’s pretty funny that we discovered it when vacationing on St Lucia many years ago. My favorite herbs are Basil, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary and Chives I prefer fresh but I use dried as well and always have them on hand.  I also use Parsley and Oregano For tomato based sauces.

There are staples everyone uses, Mayo’s Ketchups, Pickles, several kinds of mustards; spicey brown, grainy, dijon I use them all, they make amazing sauces for chicken and pork.

The list is endless but if you can keep a few of the above on hand, you will have a great start to any meal!

4 Bean Chili

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage

1 Green Bell Pepper diced

1 Large Onion diced

3 ribs Celery chopped

2 28 oz cans san marzano plum tomatoes seeded

2 cans Rotel

Ground Cumin

Chili Powder

1 can Pinto Beans drained and rinsed

1 can Black Beans drained and rinsed

1 can Kidney Beans drained and rinsed

1 large can of your favorite beans – mine is Bush’s original

1 package chili seasoning mix

In a skillet brown all meats and set aside

add some olive oil to a large pot; heat over medium heat; add onion, green pepper and celery; saute briefly. Stir in tomatoes (I tend to crush the tomatoes or cook them well enough to breakdown) and rotel, Add cumin and chili powder to taste and cook for about 6-10 minutes or until veggies are tender.  Add the Beans, browned meat and chili seasoning.  Partially cover and let simmer for 4 hours.  Serve with Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream and Chives or Green Onions.

My family love this chili so much they actually eat it along side cheese omelets in the morning!  It also freezes well!!!

Enjoy!!!

Corn Chowder – Family Friends and Food

We went to visit a friend in her newly renovated camp in Millinocket Maine. Kind of sounds like a theme with us this years.  It is around a 6 hour drive north; I did keep my eye out looking for a sight of a moose; mostly so we didn’t hit one as there were many signs on the way that said to watch out for them.  But I really wanted to see one; I did have to laugh a couple of times at myself, did I really think I would be able to see a moose while driving 75+ miles an hour on the highway? I did not – not any all weekend!

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We had a wonderful meal Friday night of Roast Beef, Gravy, Baked Potato, Butternut Squash, Green Beans and Yorkshire pudding; all were excellent!  We stayed up pretty late talking, drinking and laughing; when I woke up, way too early around 6am – I know I have issues! I was the only one that got to see the sunrise and it was pretty AMAZING!  The house was extremely quiet, the view unbelievable and the water’s edge was so incredibly close. While I was sitting there I had a kind of epiphany.  I have had a pretty great year so far!!! I am very blessed and extremely grateful for my family and friends.  I am very proud of my kids; I am thrilled they are happy and healthy and that we have a very close relationship.  I am grateful for the friends I have, the ones that live close by and I see often and the ones that are further away and that I was able to spend more time with them this year.  I started a cooking class and a blog that are both getting a lot of positive attention. People seem really interested in knowing more about both, even all the way up in Maine.

We had a Halloween party Saturday night that we all helped get ready for.  We had Swedish Meatballs, Corn Chowder and a yummy cake to make.  I was in charge of the Corn Chowder.  I will admit that I have only made this once maybe twice ever.  My family doesn’t like it so I don’t have a “set” recipe in my head.  I do however enjoy making soups/chowders and believe it or not my class on Thursday was a soup/chowder class.  It must have been a sign. I do tend to use things up in the fridge in my soups.  So I started by chopping up onions, celery and julienned some carrots. Sautéed them in some olive oil and a little butter; Thyme is one of my favorite herb for chowders, so that was my base and it help build a yummy soup from there.  Everyone, except Rich, loved it.  Told you he doesn’t like it!

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Corn Chowder

2-3 or even if you dare 4-5 pieces of crispy bacon

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Large Onion chopped

2 Stalks of Celery diced

2-3 Carrots julienned

5 Tablespoons flour

1 Teaspoon thyme

2 Cups Chicken Stock

4 Cups Milk

1 Cup Heavy Cream  by using more milk it lightens it up quite a bit)

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 Teaspoon fresh crack black pepper

3 Large potatoes diced

2 Bags of frozen Sweet Corn (or 5 ears of fresh ears of cut off their cob and blanched in some salted water for 3 minutes)

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp.  Remove the bacon and set aside.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, carrot and celery and butter to the fat, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.  Stir in the flour, salt and pepper and thyme, cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and the potatoes bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.  Add the corn and the heavy cream.  Season to taste, serve hot and garnish with crumbled bacon.

GO SOX!!!

Garlic Herb Crusted Center Cut Pork Loin

Super busy weekend AGAIN…I am not complaing – just tired and stuffy today!

Dinner out at MT’s in Nashua Friday night, I am going to try my hand at making their yummy sweet and salty wings.  They have no breading on them, they are baked not fried and they have maple syrup with a bacon crumble on top. They are simply divine!!!

Bought some new skis at our local mountain ski swap; ran to Nashua again for material, I have a baby shower coming up this weekend and I am going to make large versions of receiving blankets. Everyone loves them; at least that is what I keep hearing!  Off to VT (supposed to leave at 2, I didn’t get home till almost 3) to our good friends to have dinner and see their newly built addition. It looks great by the way; it looks like it has always been there; not an afterthought which can happen with addition’s – Nice Job!!!!

Someone; and I won’t name names; had a little too much wine to drink Saturday night, the next morning after we all woke up and the coffee had been made; this particular someone disappeared; he was found sleeping in the car with his sunglasses on covered with a blanket – kind of funny!!! Only because it wasn’t me… You should have seen the look on his face when we mentioned we were going to breakfast at Sugar and Spice, priceless!  He did feel better after eating, but it took a little while! The maple syrup for my buttermilk pancakes (they make their own) reminded me of the wings from Friday night.  Food full circle for me – when I have time; hopefully soon; I will be writing about sweet and salty wings.

After breakfast we rushed home for my husband’s Uncles 86th b-day party. By the time we got home tonight I was exhausted and thanks to my son; he gave me his cold; my head is very foggy!  Forgive me if I do not make any sense today!

Another weekend without grocery shopping and the only thing that I could make quickly was a center cut boneless pork loin. Probably doesn’t sound like a quick simple thing to fix but since I still have some herbs in the garden that have not been lost yet to the weather, and thanks to the harvest this year, we have potatoes, garlic and beets – Voila!  Garlic and Herb crusted pork loin, mashed potatoes and Beets!

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2-4 lb center cut pork loin patted dry with a paper towel

pre heat over to 450′

2 Tsp Kosher Salt

1 Tsp freshly Cracked Black Pepper

2 Tsp fresh Sage leaves chopped

2 Tsp fresh Rosemary chopped

5 minced garlic cloves

2 TBS olive oil

Mix the above (salt thru olive oil) in a small bowl into a paste

place pork in a low sided roasting pan – cover with paste mixture – place in over for 20 mintues, lower heat to 300′ and continue roasting for another 20-30 minutes – an instant read meat thermometer should reach 145′.  Everyone’s oven is different so a meat thermometer will be one of your best tools, these times are what I used for my 4lb loin. Tent with tinfoil and let sit for 10 mintues before slicing – YUM!

“Honey are you trying to fatten me up?” “You were on FIRE this week!”

Those were Just a couple of quotes from my husband this week!  Apparently I made a lot of yummy things.  Actually I must admit they were all pretty yummy.  The “are you trying to fatten me up” comment was on Wednesday,

I think it all started with Sunday night – I made a French Apple tart that I had never made before – Yummy and Easy!

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2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water

For the apples:
4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly

2 tablespoons Rum, or water

For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Rum and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature. – this is a recipe I found online that is Ina Gartens – I love her!!!

Monday was Ribeye Steak, Mashed Potato, Mushroom Gravy and Asparagus – I think I mentioned before that I am not a fan of Mushrooms!  SO my way of “hiding” them was to chop them as small as I possibly could; the gravy was SO delicious that I couldn’t NOT eat it.  I was told after dinner that “we can have that more often” Ya I’ll get right on it!  My son likes Mushrooms and hates asparagus – which was why I made both – take that!!!!

Tuesday I got up early and threw a beef stew together – I will even admit; it was the best one I made in a crockpot, Hands down!  Wednesday nightI tried another new recipe.  I had harvested my Leeks among other things and had tore one away from it’s root so I wanted to use it up quickly.  I found a recipe online that used the leeks, pancetta which I had in the fridge and chicken stock that I am never without; whether it is my own or from the store. Make some pasta, saute leeks and pancetta add wine and stock and add it all together and cover it with Parmigiano Reggiano Voila!

The “On Fire” comment was when he was getting ready to take me out to dinner on Friday!  I will confess that I was less successful with the dropped eggs on toast Friday morning – Note to self; when poaching eggs. DO NOT leave the kitchen for ANY reason!!!

I ended my week night cooking (we usually go out to dinner on Friday nights) with a new recipe I found in a magazine Deconstructed BLT – This one is a keeper!!!

6 slices of Bacon

4 French Baguette slices

1/4 Cup soft goat cheese

4 Cups Bibb lettuce (I used boston)

2 large tomatoes sliced

1/4 Cup white balsamic vinegar (I didn’ t have white)

2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 large clove of garlic minced

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

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Cook bacon until crisp – set aside

toast baguette slices until brown/crispy, spread with goat cheese and set aside

divide lettuce a nd tomatoes among 2 plates. Whisk together vinegar and next 5 ingredients, drizzle over tomatoes and lettuce

Top salad with bacon and baguette slices. Sprinkle with additional black pepper is desired.

Makes 2 servings – I doubled it as there were 4 of us!

My husband did harvest his potatoes this week – He got an entire wheelbarrow full AND was disapointed it wasn’t more.  Who is trying to fatten up who here! I love potatoes and of course me being me, I don’t want anything to spoil so I must use them up!  I did go out and purchase a rack system and some baskets (KP we didn’t get enough last night) to hopefully make them last for MONTHS!!!  He did have a few ummmmm mutant ones (see last photo) that I won’t bring out for my cooking class or bring out when friends come over to make dinner…BUT we will still eat them!

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It HAS to be the weather; it being so cool and this weekend kind of drizzly – I made a Roaster Chicken for dinner tonight – Swedish Meatballs, Italian Meatballs and Marinara Sauce for later in the week.  This weekend was filled with putting aways screens, summer cars, (my 89′ Mustang GT Convertable, he has a 85′ SVO) washing windows, deep down and dirty cleaning, washing walls and the risers on the stairs – you get the picture.  Oh Ya and lots of cooking!!!

Next weekend my Garlic is going in!!!

Golf weekend, leaf peeping and a quick yummy dinner!

Left town on Friday around 1pm and headed North for a weekend of golfing & laughs with another couple.  Not even thinking that North in New England this time of year generally means the leaf peepers are out and about; though the colors are not at their peak just yet.  The turning of the trees is one of many magical moments in New England; if you have never been here in the fall; you have never really been here.  The mountains and the trees are just amazing; we were in the lower White Mountains for the weekend.  I have lived here my whole life and I am still in awe when the trees show their colors. Going from green to bright yellow, or red, or orange; really any color in between. When the sun hits them just right ahhhhhhhhh beautiful!!!!! There are very few people that don’t stop and take it all in.

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We were able to get in 16 holes before the early setting sun made it impossible to find where our balls were landing. Actually kind of funny; my husband landed on the green in two and never saw either hit land.  They were great hits, we think!  I lost one of my pink balls, which come to think of it was kind of a pain to locate if I hit into the dropped leaves.  It didn’t stop me from using them all weekend though.  I only truly lost one that was on the 16th hole in the dark; we heard it go through the leaves but could never located it; I even tried looking again when we played the course the next day in the daylight – no luck. I did have a trick up my sleeve for dusk play. A few years back I was lucky enough to stay late with some friends after the womens league I play in. Someone brought out some light up balls – they are SO cool! We kept playing the 18th hole over and over again – Had a blast!  I ordered some of them shortly after; I finally got to use them on Friday night to finish out the 16th hole.  Very Cool!!!

I won’t bore you anymore since this is a foodies blog but I must tell you about my best shot of the weekend.  on the 4th hole at Owls Nest course Friday (in the daylight) after taking my ball out of the water I barely rolled into, I chipped a 50 footer into the hole for par; even though I had to take a drop – I think I peaked too early! Just saying – nothing as exciting after that!

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We got another 18 on Sunday before the rain started; it actually started when we were on the last hole; but we had to finish – too close not too.  Arriving home late in the afternoon on Sunday being very chilled chilled even after our 2 hour drive home; it was 59′ out cold raw and damp.  I wanted something warm yummy and quick!  I had some beets that I had picked from my garden before we left; and even though my husband planted enough potatoes for an army; he hasn’t picked them yet; We always have potatoes in the house, so I picked some thyme from the garden and made roasted thyme potatoes, sliced up the beets and boiled them and Cider Honey Glazed Chicken thighs.  Sorry the picture isn’t very good quality; I took it with my phone, pretty tired but I wanted to share this because it was delicious!!!

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1TBS olive oil – Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
1 cup apple cider
2 TBS honey
1 1/2 TBS cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Oven rack should be set at 6″ from the broiler, heat oven to 450′. Line a large rimmed cookie sheet with foil

rub the chicken with the oil and the salt and pepper, place thighs skin side up, place in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes; they will be lightly browned and done through – you can double check with a meat thermometer (not near the bone) it should read 165′ F.

While cooking place the cider and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer vigorously until the mixture has reduced by half.  remove from heat and wisk in the butter.

Turn to broiler; brush the chicken with the cider glaze and broil for a minute or two, brush with more glaze, broil again until deep golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Remove chicken brush with more of the glaze and serve.

Both pictures look great on my phone; they do not transfer well – I will use my camera from now on!!!